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“Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher star in ‘The Guardian,’ the powerful, action-packed drama that takes you inside the never-before-seen world of the elite Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers. Reeling with grief in the wake of a mission gone tragically wrong, legendary Rescue Swimmer Ben Randall (Costner) is given a mission he doesn’t want training raw recruits. Once there, he knocks heads with cocky Jake Fischer (Kutcher), a swimming champ driven by a painful secret, who’s more interested in breaking Ben’s records than saving lives. But Ben also sees Jake has what it takes to be the best of the best. Filled with spectacular rescues in the lethal waters of the Bering Sea, ‘The Guardian’ is a riveting and compelling story that dives straight into the heart and soul of real heroes, the unsung guardians of the sea.”
“The Guardian” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action/peril, brief strong language, and some sensuality.
Despite the predictable nature of “The Guardian,” it’s a pretty good looking production. The special effects are quite impressive and they recreate storms in the Bearing Sea very convincingly. And though I don’t have any feelings for or against Costner and Kutcher, I thought they did a good job of making convincing Coast Guard swimmers. They got to play to their strengths, too. Costner got to play the tortured soul who’s also an everyman. Kutcher got to play the cocky / funny young guy. Fans of Sela Ward will be disappointed to know she’s barely used in the film.
If you like films about real-life heroes then this movie is for you. Fans of Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher should also be pleased. But you have been warned it is long and it is predictable.
There is a relatively modest selection of bonus features. You’ll find your standard commentary with the director and the writer. There’s also a ‘making of’ video that’s interesting. It shows the cast training as Coast Guard swimmers and their wave tank being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. There’s an alternate, feel-good ending that’s quite different from the theatrical version. A few deleted scenes are also included. They aren’t terribly noteworthy, but a couple of them establish more animosity between Costner’s character and Neal McDonough as Jack Skinner. I’m sure the Coast Guard didn’t want it to look like their instructors were mean spirited. Finally, “Unsung Heroes” is a featurette highlighting real-life Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers. It’s extremely brief, but there’s some cool footage and interviews here.