The Guardian

Fun to watch and informative

Swim team in high school meant a letter for my sweater and ignominious losses without someone else to throw the ball to or blame. Therefore, I can report that The Guardian renews all my anxieties about swimming as a lonely activity and water as a potentially inhospitable place to play. The film, expertly choreographed by director Andrew Davis, depicts the training and deployment of the Coast Guard's "rescue swimmers."

If you are going to be scuttled on the Bering Sea, Kevin Costner's Ben Randall is the rescuer you want to save you from abnormally high waves and an out-of-control boat. He's, of course, fraught with the clich?d troubled personal life: wife leaving him because he's married to the Guard, younger rescuers waiting to break his ample records to name a couple of the standard bits. In comes Ashton Kutcher's Fischer, a heralded athlete, to make Randall wonder if he ever was even as good as Fischer.

The cinematography is better than that of A Perfect Storm because there are few shots in a big water tank and most out to sea with waves fierce and gargantuan. The schmaltz is at a minimum, except scenes with Randall's wife and Fischer's girlfriend. Also, future plot points are unobtrusively explained early and fulfilled smoothly later.

The Guardian is fun to watch and informative about the underreported heroism of rescuers who were important to the Katrina debacle. Costner underplays the tough instructor/rescuer--a good career choice for him--while Kutcher is uncomfortable in the role, probably because his acting skills are limited to convincing Demi Moore she's not too mature for him.

"When in the sea-light every early game
Was played with love and, if death's waters came,
You'd rescue me. How I would take you from,
Now, if I could, its whirling vacuum." Howard Moss