Are you ready for some Coast Guard propaganda? You'll be drowning in it by the end of director Andrew Davis' The Guardian. Best described as the Top Gun of Coast Guard movies, The Guardian manages to use every training-to-be-the-best cliché in the movie biz.
The setup: Renowned veteran rescue swimmer Ben Randall (a washed-up Kevin Costner) loses his entire crew in a tragic rescue mission in the Bering Sea. Because of injuries he suffered, dude's grounded, and shipped off to be the hard-nosed head instructor at a Coast Guard school in Alaska. Cue troubled, cocky high-school swim champ Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher), who's ready to take the Coast Guard by storm!
Let's make sure they've used every cliché:
(1) Does The Guardian have the over-the-hill mentor, who's recently been dumped by his wife, gruffly teaching the young hotshot the ABCs of saving endangered lives? Yes!
(2) How about a "look-how-hard-Ashton's-training" montage? Check, check, and check. There are three!
(3) You think it doesn't have a bar brawl? You're wrong! It has two!
(4) Does the burned-out mentor freeze up when he goes back out into the field? You betcha.
(5) Does Kevin Costner still have his Waterworld gills? Alas, no. But he does have a lot of neck wrinkles.
There are at least a dozen more of those ol' chestnuts, but I don't want to spoil this cinematic think piece for you. Besides, there is a pretty cool helicopter crash, plus a couple of good rescue scenes. And even though The Guardian might just be a lamer, wetter version of Top Gun, Ashton looks a hell of a lot better with his shirt off then Tom Cruise ever did.