DVD Release Date:  January 23, 2007
Theatrical Release Date:  September 29, 2006
Rating:  PG-13 (for intense sequences of action/peril, brief strong language and some sexuality)
Genre:  Drama
Run Time:  136 min.
Director:  Andrew Davis
Actors:  Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Sela Ward, Brian Wade, Shelby Fenner, Melissa Sagemiller

If you’ve seen the trailer for “The Guardian” and have a sneaking suspicion you’ve already watched something quite similar before, well, you’re probably right. Basically, it’s “Top Gun” meets “An Officer and a Gentleman” with a twist, but an important one at that.

But even though “The Guardian” borrows heavily from the aforementioned flicks, there’s still plenty to enjoy if you’re not in too cynical of a mood. Sure, "The Guardian" has some cheesy dialogue and a touchy-feely core, but the well-executed action sequences more than make up for its inadequacies. Or even Ashton Kutcher’s wooden dramatic acting for that matter.

After facing tragedy when a routine operation goes horribly awry, Coast Guard rescue swimmer Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) is forced to train “the next generation of swimmers” while he recuperates. With his marriage to Helen (Sela Ward) on the rocks and the nightmares of his mistake constantly haunting him, Ben reluctantly accepts the job because, well, what else is he going to do?

Of course, this is where things start to get interesting – and relatively funny, too – as Randall’s real-world method of training doesn’t exactly jive with his superiors or what’s been traditionally done in the past.

Then to add further intrigue and the requisite tension to the plot, we’ve got the cocky student with an affinity for aviator shades (Maverick, anyone?) Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher) who’s not exactly in the people-saving business for all the right reasons. But despite his shenanigans and their rocky introduction, Ben notices something extraordinary in the high school swimming champ, and the two forge a friendship and begin to realize they have more in common than they initially thought.

In addition to all the fast-paced action that follows, not to mention a few romantic twists and turns that don’t really add much to the already-bloated bottom line, the thing that really makes “The Guardian” enjoyable to watch is the fact that you get to really know these characters (unlike that another water-themed adventure that tanked at the box office this past summer, “Poseidon”). Underneath all his steely gazes and rapid-fire commands, Randall is ultimately likeable and even noble in his intentions, and Costner does a great job of displaying those nuances.

And while Kutcher doesn’t fare as well as a leading man, aside from a few choice comedic moments, he and Costner still have a believable rapport that’s fun to watch. So while it’s not exactly high art, “The Guardian” is still great escapist entertainment that most moviegoers will enjoy with a big ol’ bucket of popcorn and disbelief firmly suspended.
 
AUDIENCE:  12 and up

CAUTIONS

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  There are several scenes where characters are shown drinking alcohol.
  • Language/Profanity:  Relatively mild profanity, aside from one f-word and a couple of instances where God’s name is taken in vain.
  • Sex/Nudity:  It’s implied that Jake and his girlfriend have sex. But nothing explicit is shown.
  • Violence:  Because of the nature of the movie, there’s a lot of intense scenes during different rescue missions. Some people drown, others are rescued but have injuries. There’s also a bar fight where Jake and a fellow rescue summer are beat up by Navy officers.