There are many dangers for being a member of the Coast Guard. Taken to the icy waters of the Bering Strait off the coast of Kodiak, Alaska, the possibilities of danger with choppy waves, hypothermia, and broken vessels or rocky caves rise exponentially. Dreadful decisions meet the rescuer at every opportunity to save lives: Who can and should be saved? Who cannot be? As in any lifesaving seminar, the rescuer must stay alive to be able to save others. Hazardous conditions and low pay are part and parcel of the harrowing life of heroes. These factors set up the premise of a promising movie.
The Guardian' shows us these possibilities with Ben Randall (Kevin Costner), a maverick, but aging senior chief who is still on top of his form. At the beginning we find him challenged by a rescue that runs out the clock and leaves his colleagues in harm's way. The descending rescue 'copter runs into a wave that sends it reeling into the sea where it explodes. The trajectory of the debacle sends Randall's best friend out at sea, but even his best efforts can't save him. Randall recovers, but he remains haunted by the memory of this recent disaster that left him impotent to save the others. His superior reassigns him to train recruits. He resists, but his senior officer is wise enough to know that trauma leaves even the best rescuers tentative until time can heal the inner wounds.