Release Date: 16th August 2013
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, Bill Paxton, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos
Remember when every weekend involved a trip to the video shop? It was especially exciting if a big release had just arrived, particularly as it took about 2 years for anything to make itself available on tape. Remember also then that disappointment back in ’96 when you were desperate to rent Goldeneye because you missed it at the pictures, only to be met with each one sporting an “on loan” label and having to settle for Assassins instead (may or not be based on a true story). Well, that’s what 2 Guns feels like: a rental fail safe. It almost feels redundant on the big-screen, like you should only be paying half attention while you divvy out the chow mein and fried rice, then by the end you’ve already forgotten everything about it as you hear the sound of the tape rewinding while watching Match of the Day.
Bobby (Washington) is undercover DEA, and Stig (Wahlberg) is a Naval intelligence agent. Only thing is, neither one of is aware of the other’s secret identity: japes! After the two of them rob a bank as their undercover aliases, they turn on each other when they learn the truth and go their separate ways. However when the dirty money gets traced back to the CIA, the two have to rely on each other to survive, encountering Edward James Olmos’ drug baron and Bill Paxton’s corrupt CIA official along the way.
It’s completely generic, unoriginal stuff. That’s not to say that there’s nothing to enjoy: Washington and Wahlberg have a tangible chemistry together, and deliver some of the script’s funnier lines with a sharp wit and impeccable comic timing. Also incredibly welcome is the return of Bill Paxton, channelling his smarmy secret agent wannabe from True Lies, but with a much more sinister after-taste. Infact he claims many of the film’s best moments: his disquieting southern drawl and unpredictable methods of interrogation drawing the most noticeable reaction from the audience.
It’s a shame then that everything else falls flat. Even the main duo’s shtick starts to grate: especially Wahlberg’s performance, which mainly involves swaggering and chewing gum for the majority of his screen time. Denzel fares better, but by the time the finale has arrived we’re so underwhelmed that even he can’t keep us entertained. Add to that a thoroughly irritating syncopated bass line acting as a soundtrack, and you feel like you’ve been here a thousand times before, only Soderbergh, Don Siegel and Walter Hill did it one hundred times better over a decade ago. If The Heat taught us anything this year, it’s that buddy cop movies can still be incredibly entertaining if approached with fresh ideas and a willingness to adapt to a contemporary audience. 2 Guns feels a decade too late and frustratingly bland because of it. Not a complete failure, but give it a go if there’s nothing else on: it’ll mildly entertain you if The Heat is out on loan.