x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

2 Guns goes a bit pair-shaped

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg have great chemistry but it's squandered somewhat in a formulaic movie.

Denzel Washington, left, and Mark Wahlberg as the bank-robbing double agents in 2 Guns. AP Photo / Universal Pictures, Patti Perret
Denzel Washington, left, and Mark Wahlberg as the bank-robbing double agents in 2 Guns. AP Photo / Universal Pictures, Patti Perret

2 Guns
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Edward James Olmos, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton

***

Based on a comic book series by Steven Grant, this twist-heavy action comedy about bank robbers and double agents on America’s border with Mexico is saved from drowning in B-movie cliché by the crackling screen chemistry between its two charismatic stars.

The director is Baltasar Kormákur, who amassed a solid track record of stylish left-field features in his native Iceland before moving to Hollywood. Kormakur first directed Wahlberg in last year’s Contraband, a routine crime thriller with a plot not far removed from 2 Guns. This film is better, but not much better.

It opens with Trench (Washington) and Stigman (Wahlberg) bickering over breakfast in a small New Mexico town as they plan an armed robbery on the bank across the street. Rewind a few weeks and the duo are in Mexico, striking a shady deal with the powerful drug smuggler Papi Greco (Olmos).

But what these mismatched partners in crime both fail to realise is that the other is an undercover agent: Trench is working covertly for the police and Stigman for the US Navy. Only after the bank robbery yields an unexpectedly huge amount of money do they realise they are being used as pawns in a wider game that involves treacherous friends, crooked CIA bosses and corrupt military officials,

Full of shifting loyalties and game-changing revelations, 2 Guns blasts along at a gripping pace. The action has an agreeably old-school feel, with plenty of close-up combat and refreshingly few digital special effects. Film buffs will also enjoy the homages to other movies, from Quentin Tarantino and Sam Peckinpah to such vintage crime thrillers as Bullitt and Charley Varrick. As usual, Wahlberg coasts along on likeable everyman charm and pulls off the impressive feat of co-starring opposite Washington without being blown off screen by him. Arguably America’s finest screen actor of the last 20 years, Washington elevates every film he makes, even pulp time-wasters such as this.

Less impressively, the wisecracking dialogue between Trench and Stigman is nowhere near as witty or charming as it aspires to be. The villains are also crudely drawn throwbacks, much of the graphic violence feels far too gratuitous and the final showdown is so full of illogical twists that it becomes plain ridiculous. An undemanding thrill ride, 2 Guns starts out promising a fresh spin on the creaky old buddy-cop genre, but merely rehashes the formula rather than reinventing it.

artslife@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @LifeNationalUAE

And follow us on Facebook for discussions, entertainment, reviews, wellness and news.