The Guardian

Warning: Spoilers.

Prior to entering the theater I was going to bet somebody that Kevin Costner's character dies at the end of this thing, but I figured it was such a foregone conclusion that making that prediction would elicit the kind of laughter I'd get from predicting that Paris Hilton would turn up with a venereal disease.

Of course I was right. Kevin Costner's character, Ben Randall, an elite Coast Guard swimmer, drowns at the end as he's helping to save the life of his protégé, Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher). The whole sequence is excruciating and pointless - about 20 minutes of unnecessary film. Some assclown screenwriter figured the only way that Randall could exit the film heroically was for him to die. Too bad Randall wasn't as strong as that cliché because then he'd live for fucking ever.

"The Guardian" is "An Officer and a Gentleman" meets "Waterworld." At the very least it's "An Officer and a Gentleman" in the Coast Guard elite swimmer's program. First of all, we have the relationship between Randall, the program's most decorated swimmer, and Fischer, the kid who thinks he's going to break all of his teacher's records. Incidentally, Randall is teaching because his last rescue resulted in the death of his crew and he's taking a break, which means in any movie with no original ideas that he'll get back in the water, save somebody, and drown.

So see if this plot sounds familiar. Jake's main problem is that he's too full of himself and obnoxious, so Randall figures he'll bring Jake down a few notches. Since being an elite Coast Guard swimmer is about saving lives, Randall demonstrates that Jake is selfish. This prompts Jake to look inside himself, culminating in him helping another student pass an important physical test. Remember when Zack Mayo (Richard Gere) helped Casey (Lisa Eilbacher) conquer the obstacle course in AOaaG?

Oh, then there's the relationship Jake has with the townie, Emily (Melissa Sagemiller), who claims that all the service guys just come into town hoping to bed the women. So they just have a casual relationship, which means, of course, that they'll fall in love and want to be together forever and ever. Naturally, Jake returns at the end of the film to surprise Emily and take her away. Sound familiar? Hell, I think Sagemiller is even done up to look like Debra Winger.

Oh, and then there's the scene in the pool when Jake and Randall have it out. Randall stands at the edge of the pool spraying Jake with a hose as Jake treads water trying to get him to explain why he's there. Sound familiar? Remember the same scene between Foley (Louis Gossett Jr.) and Mayo? "I want your DOR!" They even have that same thing in the movie.

There's no question that AOaaG was ages ago, but "The Guardian" could have at least made a little effort to be more than a second-rate rip-off.

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