Even if you didn't know 2 Guns is based on a graphic novel, you wouldn't probably take too long in ascertaining the origin of Baltasar Kormákur's fast-moving, wise-cracking buddy comedy-actioner. There's definitely something cartoonish about this two-against-the-world tale of two undercover cops, one DEA, one NCIS, thrown into the deep end of a sting operation gone very wrong. But you wouldn't take too long either in understanding that the cartoonish, cheerful tone is a deliberate throwback to the golden age of the 1980s buddy cop movie - the era of titles such as 48 Hours, Running Scared, Stakeout, The Hard Way or Lethal Weapon - with a game cast having lots of fun with genre tropes and a buoyant rhythm suggesting an unholy mix of Michael Bay's OTT tendencies, Tarantino-ish meta-satirical self-awareness and Don Siegel no-nonsense.

     The key to 2 Guns lies in the simultaneously tongue-in-cheek and serious approach of all involved, from scriptwriter Blake Masters' pointed stabs at political and institutional corruption (in this world, it seems pretty much everyone's tainted) to Icelandic transplant Kormákur's gleefully take-no-prisoners handling, all driving action and cheeky wit. It's all magnificently encapsulated in the apparently unlikely but pitch-perfect match-up between stars Denzel Washington (as DEA cool cat Bobby Treach) and Mark Wahlberg (as Navy man Michael Stigman). Mr. Washington can turn the cool factor on at will, granted, and his character isn't much of a stretch, but there's real sparkle in his effortless, wise-cracking banter with an easy-going Mr. Wahlberg, whose often underestimated comic timing is on the spot here; and there's beautiful supporting work from Bill Paxton as the piece's core villain, relishing every Texan-accented line of his puppet-master corrupt federal agent. 2 Guns will never be anyone's idea of a masterpiece, true. But if all action films cranked out by the Hollywood machine could be as driven, driving and fun as it, Summer wouldn't be a dirty word any longer.

Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, James Marsden, Fred Ward, Edward James Olmos
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Screenplay: Blake Masters, from the graphic novel 2 Guns by Steven Grant
Cinematography: Oliver Wood (colour, widescreen)
Music: Clinton Shorter
Designer: Beth Mickle
Costumes: Laura Jean Shannon
Editor: Michael Tronick
Producers: Marc Platt, Adam Siegel, Randall Emmett, Norton Herrick, George Furla, Ross Richie, Andrew Cosby (Foresight Unlimited, Emmett/Furla Films and Marc Platt Productions in association with Universal Pictures, Oasis Media Ventures, Norton Herrick Entertainment, Boom! Studios, Empyre Media Capital and Envision Entertainment)
USA, 2013, 109 minutes

Screened: distributor advance press screening, Columbia Tristar Warner screening room, Lisbon, September 19th 2013


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