Perhaps, if you were new to the medium of motion pictures, you might watch 'The Guardian' and think that it wasn't a bad movie. Harmless entertainment, you might think.
However, if you've seen this film in its hundreds of other guises then you'll be sorely disappointed.
It's not that the 'The Guardian' does anything particularly wrong, it's just that it is all so tired and hackneyed.
It contains the elements of all the previous military heroism movies you've ever seen: a grizzled old veteran; a talented young buck with a bad attitude; pages of generic military-speak; a hard-as-nails drill sergeant; a music video-style training montage; a bar fight; a dramatic ending in which the veteran and the young buck forge an unbreakable bond; a US flag.
It all sounds harmless and inoffensive, but there's a sinister side to 'The Guardian', too.
Look deep enough into the credits and you'll find the names Kevin Raimer and Jeff Loftus. Raimer and Loftus are normally known as Commanders Raimer and Loftus, officers of the US Coast Guard who work for the Coast Guard Motion Picture and Television Office. The two have worked on movies before; their job is to check factual details on set and in the script and ensure that the film is not ruined by some minor factual error. Oh, and to make sure nothing bad is said about their particular military service.
Hollywood has long relied on advice and assistance from the military for making movies. This is not always to the good of the film. 'Black Hawk Down' is, arguably, the most celebrated example of a film in which the original (true) story was eroded so completely by military liaisons that it eventually bore no resemblance to reality. Had the story not been changed, all military assistance would have been revoked; as Ridley Scott put it, had the military not helped on 'Black Hawk Down' it would by necessity have been re-titled 'Huey Down'.
If it does nothing else, 'The Guardian' highlights the fact that Hurricane Katrina and the requirements of Homeland Security have significantly raised the profile and importance of the US Coast Guard.
Of course, that is not to say that the US Coast Guard liaisons had any sort of malign influence on this film or that the rescue swimmers are anything but brave and committed people. However, if 'The Guardian' can spread the good feeling generated by the hard work of the rescue services and embed it in the minds of the US cinema-going public, this will surely wash its way through the Armed Forces and go some way to erasing the damage done by the US government's mishandling of the aftermath of Katrina.
Harmless entertainment? Hardly.
Barry J Whyte