Iceland's Baltasar Kormákur shoots for a sand-blasted Peckinpah homage, but falls way, way short of glory.
"Why don’t you stop hitting yourself? Why don’t you stop hitting yourself? Why don’t you stop hitting yourself?"
We’ve all been there: an elder sibling/school bully/drunken spouse kneels on your chest, grabs your wrists and smacks you round the head with your own hands. Onlookers may titter. They may stare aghast. Or they may simply walk away. But you will nevertheless be left rattled, exhausted and riddled with impotent self-loathing. If that experience could somehow be distilled into its purest essence, condensed into a paste and smeared across ten reels of photographic film then it would – and you might well be ahead of us here – be 2 Guns.
Baltasar Kormákur, Icelandic director of 2000's only really truly worthwhile boozy Oedipal meltdown movie, 101 Reykjavík, turns his attention to bad motherfuckers of a different stripe with this old-fashioned, two-fisted tale of a couple of bantering bank robbers down ol' Mexico way who, unbeknownst to each other, may or may not actually be working undercover for Uncle Sam (clue: they so are).
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, a pairing that would seem to have been selected by the Hollywood Buddy-Buddy Generator on one of its rare off days, manage to mine the odd golden nugget from the uneven terrain of the script. But despite all their admirable effort, they fail to conjure up any notable chemistry between themselves.
There’s an undeniable volley of tolerably dumb fun to be had in their company during the film's opening hour, but by the time the double-crosses start piling up and the automatic weapons are busted out, the whole thing becomes so generically noisy and noisily generic that it’s difficult to stay focused. Apparently the film is based on a comic book, but by the end you’ll be surprised if it’s based on anything at all.
The same harsh ratio of diminishing returns applies to Kormákur’s visuals. Somebody’s certainly been wading through their Peckinpah box-sets and early-'70s New Hollywood classics, and the film gears-up with a certain cask-aged panache. But the homages – a chicken-blasting scene ripped from Pat Garrett…, the Dodge Challenger straight out of Vanishing Point – descend into derivative pastiches. Witness a lazy climactic shoot-out in the dusty compound of a Mexican drug lord that bears unflattering comparisons to the last reel of The Wild Bunch.
Special mention has to be made of the sterling supporting cast that includes such sandblasted dependables as Edward James Olmos, Bill Paxton, Robert Burke and the mighty Fred Ward. Even James Marsden throws down a fine turn, ditching the centre-parting and smirk in favour of a crew-cut and some tough-guy steel. They all – as, to be fair, do Denzel and Marky Mark – deserve a better vehicle for their talents than this bruising, ultimately disappointing and very, very noisy misfire.
And why don’t we stop hitting ourselves..? Because, Hollywood, even though we hate it when you're beastly to us, we hate ourselves even more for putting up with it.
Denzel and Wahlberg are both on a pretty hot streak. Let’s give this one the benefit of the doubt.
Kicks off like Sam Peckinpah directing The Other Guys but ends up like Adam McKay directing The Wild Bunch.
A fairly indistinct Tex-Mex time-filler that soon gets lost amid memories of cooler, dustier, sweatier tear-ups.