Yikes. Kevin Costner is the latest once A-list leading man slash action star trying (and failing) to prove he still has what it takes (see: Harrison Ford in Hollywood Homicide, Michael Douglas in The Sentinel) while shepherding a new young hottie through whatever it is they go through to become better men.
In this case the film is made all the more worse when said hot young thang is Ashton Kutcher. Sorry folks, but Mr. Demi Moore ain’t all that and the Coast Guard deserves better. Kevin Costner plays an elite Coast Guard rescue diver who is not growing old gracefully, married to his job more than wife Sela Ward, basically reprising her role from The Day After Tomorrow, as the Woman Left Behind.
After a tragedy, he’s forced to reevaluate and is sent to train the next crop of elite divers. Enter Kutcher, perhaps the worst actor in Hollywood next to talking billboard Paul Walker (see: The Bold and the Beautiful and the Without-Talent school of acting), who spends the whole movie trying (and failing) to act, emote and be more than a live-action Ken doll. Actually I am being a bit harsh. It’s just that Kutcher has that vacant presence and absent line delivery that doesn’t seem to convey much depth in the heavier, more emotional scenes.
As such it was hard to empathize with the character, even when he was being “funny” and “charming.” The whole movie is just a glorified training montage (see: Top Gun, Heartbreak Ridge, almost every other military movie ever made) complete with the obligatory pranks and pratfalls, bar fights and bullshit. And a completely bogus Katrina-related plug that is shameless and in poor taste.
The core of The Guardian is the central love story. No, not the “Ashton-and-the-girl” throwaway subplot. The one between Kevin and Ashton and the Job. It’s all about Kevin seeing himself in Ashton, overcoming past tragedies, mutual respect, moving on, living the Job and becoming the hero, blah blah. You know the story. By heart. The Guardian so blatantly lifts scenes straight from better movies (Bull Durham, An Officer and a Gentleman) that Ron Shelton and Douglas Day Stewart should have royalty checks coming in the mail. Bad enough. But to then crib from lesser movies like Armageddon, that’s just sad.
So it goes without saying that the movie was predictable, and thusly, more than a little on the boring side. Here’s hoping that Kevin Costner learns from this, decides to be more selective when reviewing scripts, and finds a better way to go gentle into that good night. It’s not just about aging well or growing into the new roles. Costner did fine in Open Range, 13 Days, and The Upside of Anger. But when given stuff like this, with its recycled plots and weak dialogue, Costner is left to phone it in and just walk around trying to look like a movie star. One who’s past his prime, and on his way out.