Three stars / Two stars
2 Guns (15)
Loading article content
Dir: Baltasar Kormakur
With: Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington
Runtime: 109 minutes
The two guns of Baltasar Kormakur's amiable actioner go by the character names of Bobby and Stig, but you can call them Denzel (Washington) and Mark (Wahlberg). Like a Scottish summer needs sunshine, these two screen stars raise the brightness and fun levels of what would otherwise be a run of the mill shoot 'em up.
As pairings go, think Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin in Midnight Run; think Murphy and Nolte in 48 Hours; think Planes, Trains and Automobiles with firepower instead of credit cards. Think whatever you like, but don't think too much lest the endearing daftness of the piece is diluted.
Kormakur (The Deep) worked with Wahlberg on the thriller Contraband, a solid, old school slice of entertainment. The same label could be applied to this tale of undercover agents trying to infiltrate a drugs cartel, only to find they have stirred up quite the hornets' nest.
When we first meet them, Bobby and Stig are in a diner, shooting the breeze. Their conversational rhythm swings along like jazz, one cute line zinging off the next. The audience can relax. This double act, we are assured from the off, are going to spark nicely off each other.
From the diner, Kormakur cuts to one week earlier and the tale begins in earnest. Who is the cool, debonair Bobby really? And what gives Stig such swagger? These two don't seem like your typical hired muscle, there to protect a cross border drug smuggling operation between America and Mexico. Which side they are on is soon revealed. That settled, Kormakur ups the mayhem level a little more.
Adapted from the graphic novels by Steven Grant, 2 Guns rocks along as if we are watching the pages of a comic book being flipped at speed. Check out that gunfight there, that stand-off here, pause a moment while the love interest (Paula Patton) is introduced. Just when the pieces of the story appear to have fallen into place, Kormakur shakes things up again.
As skilful as the Icelandic director is in assembling a story, the heavy lifting here is done by the two Mr Ws, Wahlberg and Washington. They make such a winning comedy couple it is a wonder no one has thought of bringing them together before. Washington takes on the role of older, wiser guy to Wahlberg's loose cannon, the big dog to the puppyish Stig, leaving the younger guy to vacuum up the funniest lines.
Plenty of others, including Patton and James Marsden as a military guy in the mix, try to get a look-in but this is the Washington and Wahlberg show, and Kormakur knows it. Through sheer force of screen presence, they hold the picture together when the story becomes too confusing for its own good.
The narrative is so chaotic at times it makes the storyline of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World look positively sane. When one character asks what the heck is going on one can only nod in sympathy with his befuddlement.
The odd couple also do the business when any pretence at logic and believability has bitten the dust. That's what star power can do in a movie like this, and Washington and Wahlberg give it their all. At a relatively brisk 109 minutes, Kormakur's show leaves the road before any boredom sets in or the audience can look too closely at the tale. Two screen guns have gone to war, and come back with a result.
Dir: Klay Hall
Voices: Dane Cook, Teri Hatcher
Runtime: 92 minutes
Flying into a cinema near you as the school holidays draw to a close is Disney's patchy and bland animated tale of an ordinary little plane, Dusty Crophopper, who dreams of zipping through the skies like
a jet one day and winning a round the world race.
Lots of famous voices, including John Cleese (playing Bulldog the British plane, natch), Teri Hatcher and Julia Louis-Dreyfus turn up to give some personality to the animated lumps of metal, some succeeding more than others.
As with Cars, plane-spotting kids will either be entranced by the noisy contraptions and the wacky races on offer in Klay Hall's picture, or, more likely, bored stiff.