The Guardian (2006 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrew Davis|
|Produced by||Armyan Bernstein
Lowell D. Blank
|Written by||Ron L. Brinkerhoff|
|Music by||Trevor Rabin|
|Cinematography||Stephen St. John|
|Editing by||Thomas J. Nordberg
|Distributed by||Touchstone Pictures|
|Running time||139 minutes|
The Guardian is a 2006 action-adventure drama film starring Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, and Melissa Sagemiller. The film was released on September 29, 2006, and was directed by Andrew Davis. The setting for the film is the United States Coast Guard and their Aviation Survival Technician (AST) program.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (July 2012)|
Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) is the top rescue swimmer at the United States Coast Guard's Aviation Survival Technician (AST) program. Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher) is a hot-shot candidate for AST, who was ranked as a top competitive swimmer in high school with scholarships to every Ivy league college, but he opted to enlist in the Coast Guard. The film's title is introduced by a mythic tale: people lost at sea often claim they feel a presence lifting them to the surface, breathing life into their bodies while they are waiting for help to arrive. They call this presence "The Guardian".
Ben is confronted by his wife, who requests a separation due to his frequent time at work. He receives a page for an immediate rescue. Out at sea, he loses his rescue team in an HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter crash and, while waiting in a survival raft, his best friend, Chief Petty Officer Carl Billings (Omari Hardwick), dies. Shaken, Ben is forced to either retire or teach at a Coast Guard training school; he reluctantly chooses the latter. Here, Jake arrives as a hopeful AST candidate at "A" school, where Ben is considered a legend with a countless number of saves.
During the training, Jake meets a local schoolteacher, Emily Thomas, and they begin a "casual" relationship, as they both know their time together is limited. Once the initial weeks of training are over and most of the students have dropped out, detailed instruction begins at the academy. After sleeping at Emily’s house, Jake arrives late to class, and Ben confronts him. Although Jake is not expelled, he and the entire team are punished for his tardiness. Ben tries to force Jake to quit, but later sees Jake's persistence and dedication.
Meeting Emily in a bar, Jake tells her about his beating all of his instructor Ben Randall's records. However, Maggie the barkeep (Bonnie Bramlett), an old friend of Ben's, tells Jake of the unbreakable record Ben set at a rescue at a ship fire, where Ben worked tirelessly to save all the victims. With one man left and a broken winch, Randall held the man by his fingertips for the entire flight, through landing, resulting in extensive injuries to Ben's hand and shoulder.
Later, during instruction, Jake's friend Charlie Hodge is unable to cope with panicked victims in the water and is afraid of failing school, so Jake takes him out for a drink to cheer him up. After ending up in a Navy bar, they get involved in a fight and land in jail, thusly standing up Jake's girlfriend. Jake arrives back at base beaten and bandaged, and takes the blame entirely.
Ben confronts Jake about why he left his prospects as a competitive swimmer to join the AST program, and tells Jake what he learned about Jake's past: on a late night out, Jake, the designated driver, got into an accidental automobile crash, resulting in the deaths of his high school relay team. After a moment of sorrow, Ben and Jake share common ground; they both know how it feels to be the only survivor.
Instruction nears completion, and Jake takes to the role of leader during exercises. At graduation only a handful of the original candidates remain. Emily comes to see Jake graduate, but the two part ways because Jake is leaving town.
Jake is assigned to CG Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, Randall's previous post. On a mission together, they are sent to rescue two kayakers trapped in a cave. Ben experiences flashbacks and appears to be incapacitated during the rescue. Ben retires and tells Jake of his only record he kept track of – the 22 people he lost during his career. As Jake is sent out on another mission to rescue the crew of a sinking fishing trawler, Ben visits and apologizes to his wife and gives her the signed divorce papers. Meanwhile during the rescue, Jake becomes trapped in the ship after attempting to rescue the Captain and his helicopter is forced to return to base. Back at the station, Ben hears of the situation and opts to suit up to rescue Jake.
Once on scene, Ben finds and releases Jake from the hull of the ship. As they hook up to the winch and proceed upwards towards the helicopter, their combined weight causes the cable to begin separating. Knowing that the cable would not last, Ben unclips himself from the cable so that Jake can survive. As Ben falls Jake catches him by the hand and tells him he will not let him go. Ben sees that Jake will do anything to keep him alive and he says " I know...." but Ben does not want him to die, so he unstraps his glove, plummeting from a fatal height into the ocean. Ben does not resurface and his body is never found
Jake is on a rescue mission sometime later, when one of the survivors tells of a man in the sea who refuses to let go. Jake connects this to the legend, as well as Ben. He goes back to Emily and they rekindle their relationship.
Many of the supporting actors, including ASTC instructors, helicopter pilots, and support personnel, are actual U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmers, pilots, and ground personnel. Several characters, including Kutcher's, identify themselves as Airman. An Airman is the enlisted rating of a Coast Guardsman who is undesignated and/or currently undergoing training in an aviation related field. Similar ratings within the Coast Guard are those of Seaman and Fireman.
- Kevin Costner as Senior Chief Aviation Survival Technician Ben Randall
- Ashton Kutcher as Airman/Petty Officer 3rd Class Jake Fischer
- Neal McDonough as Chief Aviation Survival Technician Jack Skinner
- Melissa Sagemiller as Emily Thomas
- Clancy Brown as Captain William Hadley
- Brian Geraghty as Aviation Survival Technician Third Class Billy Hodge
- Sela Ward as Helen Randall
- Omari Hardwick as Chief Petty Officer Carl Billings
- Michael Rady as Zingaro
- Peter Gail as Airman Danny Doran
- Shelby Fenner as Airman Cate Lindsey
- Damon Lipari as Damon Bennett
- Bonnie Bramlett as Maggie McGlone
- John Heard as Captain Frank Larson
- Dulé Hill as Airman Ken Weatherly
- Brian Patrick Wade as Mitch Lyons
- Joe Arquette as Co-Pilot Antunez
- Andrew Schanno as Pilot Henry Mitchell
- Tilky Jones as Tilky Flint
- Daniel Molthen as Richard Wakefield
- Bryce Cass as Manny
- Chicago Catz as the bar band
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2013)|
- The production company hired local contractors to build a massive indoor wave pool for production.
- Following the series of hurricanes in the southern United States in 2005, production moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. Some of the base scenes were filmed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana and at Camp Minden in Minden, Louisiana.
- The film was revised after Hurricane Katrina, with the addition of several comments on the storm and the rescues. The end credits are replete with "glory" shots of U.S. Coast Guard helicopters conducting rescues in the greater New Orleans area. The DVD contains a special feature on U.S. Coast Guard rescue operations, especially in the aftermath of Katrina.
- Some of the scenes that were supposed to be filmed in Kodiak, Alaska were actually filmed at CG Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina. 60,000 pounds of ice were needed on the set.
- The training pool used in the movie was LSU-Shreveport's natatorium.
- The 3D fluid effects (ocean surfaces, cresting waves, splashes, bow-spray, boat wakes, rain) were created by Flash Film Works in Hollywood with the expertise of Mark Stasiuk (RealFlow expert) at Fusion CI Studios in Los Angeles.
Historical relevance 
The mishap where Randall loses his crew is loosely based on an actual U.S. Coast Guard aviation mishap in Alaska. The aircraft was an HH-3F Pelican (USCG variant of the Jolly Green Giant) instead of the HH-60J Jayhawk (USCG variant of the Blackhawk/Seahawk) pictured in the movie.
Box office 
The film earned $18 million on its opening weekend, and almost $95 million worldwide by January 4, 2007.
Critical reception 
The film received average reviews: Rotten Tomatoes currently has it at 37% rotten (141 reviews: 52 fresh, 89 rotten) while Metacritic rates it a 53/100 based on 29 reviews. Stephen Hunter pans it in The Washington Post, calling it "a good little film" for the first hour then it "begins to overload its frail reed of a structure with giant sloppages of cliches from other movies, some so bad it's almost comical", concluding that the movie "veers off into slobbery touchy-feeliness, and the tone becomes mock-religious, almost liturgical." Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe called it "dutiful but dull." For The New York Times, A.O. Scott notes that participation by actual members of the Coast Guard "lends an air of authenticity" and concludes "[i]t’s not a great movie, but it’s certainly one of the finest Coast Guard pictures you’re likely to see anytime soon." In a Variety review, Joe Leydon says the movie is "overlong but [the] involving drama has obvious cross-generational appeal." Ed Blank in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review acknowledges there is plenty to snipe at yet adds: The Guardian "regurgitates formulaic elements in a way that pays off repeatedly and potently."
Home media 
Alternate ending 
In an alternate ending found on the DVD, Randall survives. As he unhooks and tries to fall, Jake again grabs him and vows not to let go. Instead of unstrapping his glove, Randall lets the cable pull them up and it breaks just as they get into the helicopter. This ending was added because some of the writers were worried that the original ending was too strong for viewers. Nonetheless, it was scrapped when Disney chairman, Dick Cook, applauded the original ending.
The soundtrack was released on September 12, 2006. The soundtrack uses a variety of music genres, including R&B, Country music, Rock and Soul blues.
- Track listing
|1.||"Never Let Go" (performed by Bryan Adams)||5:05|
|2.||"Something to Talk About" (performed by Shedaisy)||3:54|
|3.||"Saturday Night" (performed by Ozomatli)||4:01|
|4.||"Love & Happiness" (performed by Bonnie Bramlett)||4:32|
|5.||"The Mockingbird" (performed by Lisa Lavie)||3:07|
|6.||"Hold Tight" (performed by Tad Robinson)||4:03|
|7.||"Tri-Me" (performed by Abby Ahmad)||4:33|
|8.||"Hold On, I'm Coming" (performed by Bonnie Bramlett)||2:57|
|9.||"Shake Up the World" (performed by Stevie "Funkworm" Butler)||4:09|
|10.||"Friday Night" (performed by Cheryl Wilson)||3:00|
|11.||"Run Me in the Dirt (Throwdown)" (performed by Butch Flythe & Joseph "Butch" Flythe)||3:29|
|12.||"The Guardian Suite" (performed by Trevor Rabin)||7:39|
- Check-Six.com- U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Fatalities
- "The Guardian". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "The Guardian". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "The Guardian". Metacritic. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- Stephen Hunter. "The Guardian". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- Wesley Morris (September 29, 2006). "'The Guardian' is dutiful but dull". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- A.O. Scott (September 29, 2006). "The Guardian (2006): Costner Is Back in the Water, and He’s Stoically Swimming to Save Everybody". The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- Joe Leydon (September 17, 2006). "The Guardian". Variety. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- Ed Blank. "'Guardian' pays off for Costner, Kutcher'". The Tribune-Review Publishing Co. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "The Guardian Original Soundtrack". Amazon.com. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: The Guardian (film)|
- The Guardian at the Internet Movie Database
- The Guardian at AllRovi
- The Guardian at Box Office Mojo
- The Guardian at Rotten Tomatoes
- The real stories of fatal Coast Guard aviation accidents
- The Guardian full production notes