by / August 16th, 2013 /

2 Guns

Review by on August 16th, 2013

 3/5 Rating

Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos
Running Time: 109 minutes
Certificate: 15A
Release Date: August 16

2 Guns sees Washington/Wahlberg team up as small time crooks Bobby Beans and Michael Stigman, who unbeknownst to each other are undercover DEA and Navy officers respectively. After a simple heist lands them with ten times the payoff they expected, the pair realise that neither their partner nor their target was who they thought.

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur’s first effort in big budget US production, Contraband—also starring Whalberg—was, to put it bluntly, a bit shit. Derivative and plain, Kormankur’s film felt like a grainy xerox of a decent movie, legible, but monotone. It appears the director has now upgraded to a colour copier—2 Guns is just as much a pastichey knock-off as its predecessor, but makes for a much more lively counterfeit.

A drug kingpin who with a penchant for creative torture methods; a foxy female co-officer; a mentally unstable G-man who no one wants to fuck with—all present and accounted for. It’s a roll sheet that reads like it was complied by someone who’s seen a thousand action films, and secretly hopes his audience hasn’t seen any.

The two leads are certainly products of the same tracing paper universe as the rest of the cast, but prove far more vivid thanks to Wahlberg and Washington’s saving chemistry, which makes for the kind of reckless team-up that keeps the flame of action cinema burning bright. Constantly getting each other into deeper trouble; if they were kids, their parents would’ve gotten fed up of them playing together long ago. Their penchant for making the worst conceivable decision at any given moment keeps the film interesting, while pushing it further and further beyond the point of absurdity.

Much like the roster, the plot is a collage of action thriller tropes—double/triple crosses, corrupt officials, a 24hr deadline and a trip to the vet while on the run. Presumably pulling bullets from renegade crooks is a right of passage for veterinarians these days. The film even dabbles with non linear narrative, but Kormákur quickly drops the conceit, presumably because unlike the simpler memes he adopted, he couldn’t figure out how this one works.

A massive leap in both film making and entertainment from Kormákur’s previous US output, 2 Guns still feels like an imitation of better films. Still, the director continues to hone his skills as a counterfeiter, perhaps next time no one will be able to tell the difference?