Film reviews: 2 Guns | Bachelorette | Call Girl

ACTION fans won’t feel cheated by Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg’s new film. There’s a lot more than 2 Guns in this picture. Every scene has a weapon being unsheathed, to the point that it would be more accurate to call it “Too Many Guns, Already”.

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg play undercover agents posing as criminals in 2 Guns
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg play undercover agents posing as criminals in 2 Guns

2 Guns (15)

Director: Baltasar Kormákur

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Running time: 109 minutes

* * *

Still, we like Denzel Washington and we usually like Mark Wahlberg, unless he’s trying to be Cary Grant in The Truth About Charlie, so a mismatched buddy action movie starring both of them doesn’t require too much moral complexity, provided the film finds a groove.

Washington and Wahlberg play a couple of macho hoods who team up in order to rob a sleepy small town bank. To their surprise, the sleepy small town vault contains £30 million. And there are other big surprises down the pike, such as: neither of them are really criminals. They are both undercover agents but neither knows the other’s secret.

Washington works for the DEA and appears to collect Panama hats. Wahlberg is a naval intelligence officer and does a lot of flirting and winking. Both are hoping to catch a Mexican drug lord (Edward James Olmos) who has unexpected expertise in animal management, especially maddened bulls.

These may not sound like substantial bolt-on characters tics, until you meet Washington’s former girlfriend (Paula Patton). She’s on the same badass DEA rank as him, yet her calling card appears to be “part-time lingerie model”. She’s also supposed to be Washington’s love interest, but it’s obvious that the real will-they/won’t-they relationship tension is generated between Wahlberg and Washington, once they find out the truth about each other.

2 Guns is quite good fun, especially if you like hats or lingerie, but it’s as if it was made by people in the last week of term allowed to wear their own clothes to school. Bill Paxton turns up as a beadily sinister CIA superspook who gets away with speeches like: “Your cock is massive – I’m in awe of your cock. But you’re still a drug dealer and I’m still the United States government.” During this movie, I started to crush on Paxton because he delivers this stuff without ever looking bored. That’s a triumph of acting over feeling, given how ridiculous some of his scenes are, although I appreciate that complaining about ludicrous dialogue in something like 2 Guns is like going to a strip club and complaining you can’t get smoky bacon crisps at the bar.

It’s as if everyone here knows what the deal is. It’s August. We shouldn’t be indoors watching films; we should be stuck on the M74 to Largs, or taking the kids around the shops, buying school uniforms. Even the director, Baltasar Kormákur, who worked with Wahlberg on Contraband but is better known on the arthouse circuit for grim Icelandic features, acts as if he’s in his shirtsleeves.

The best way to enjoy 2 Guns is to try to ride out its gratuitous violence, crass skin exposure and plot bumps – why is the navy so interested in a dry land drug lord, for instance? But the sense of play-acting robs the movie of any real tension. 2 Guns could do with more powerful ammunition.

On general release from Friday

Bachelorette (15)

* * *

FEMALE comedy is the bridesmaid not the bride in Hollywood, so let’s toss a bouquet in the direction of Bachelorette for having the twisted ambition to pull together a femalecentric comedy that a) doesn’t involve women falling over or b) a makeover for the slobbiest woman in the picture.

If anything, Bachelorette is hellbent on being the kind of girl pic you couldn’t take home to meet the family, with laughs so sour they dry in your mouth. Among its targets is the notion that female bonds are unbreakable and even semi-mystical (really, how can those Sex And The City women be friends?). The trio in Bachelorette are closer to frenemies, a bitchy gang who are horrified when they discover childhood classmate Becky (Rebel Wilson) has beaten them down the aisle.

The dismay reflects their sense of alpha entitlement: Regan, Katie and Gena are thin, ruthless, sexually over-available and used to sneer at Becky for being a chunk. Yet she is serenely happy with a fiancé handsome enough to have his own underwear line, while Regan (Kirsten Dunst) is a control freak, Katie (Isla Fisher) is a druggy mess and Gena (Lizzy Caplan) is outraged at being recently dumped

Bulimia and abortion form some of the most unsettling gags, and unsurprisingly not all of them work. The cruelty is breathtaking, at least until the third act decides to soften the edges, but like a bride speaking during the wedding toasts, the most remarkable thing about Bachelorette is not whether it’s accomplished, but that it’s done at all.

On general release from Friday

Call Girl (18)

* * * *

Strong shades of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s sepia moodiness haunt Mikael Marcimain’s taut political thriller set in 1970s Sweden. A promising feature debut, based on a real scandal linking a powerful Scandinavian elite to a prostitution ring.

Glasgow Film Theatre, Friday until 29 August; Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Friday until 29 August

Shun Li And The Poet (15)

* * *

A Chinese immigrant (Zhao Tao) paying off a family debt to gangsters becomes surprisingly popular with the locals when she takes up bar work in a tough Italian fishing town. The pathos of Andrea Segre’s film may be a little contrived yet is still hard to resist.

Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Friday until 18 August

The Wall (12A)

* * *

Julian Pölsler surreal horror places a woman (Martina Gedeck) holidaying in the Austrian mountains behind a mysterious wall. Marooned like an alpine Robinson Crusoe with a dog as her chief companion, she learns self-sufficiency. It would be a provocative, immersive experience if the voiceover knew when to shut up, but dog and woman are both excellent.

Glasgow Film Theatre, today; Filmhouse, Edinburgh, tomorrow until Thursday.

I Am Nasrine (15)

* *

A brutalised Iranian schoolgirl Nasrine (Micsha Sadeghi) flees to Newcastle as an asylum seeker and is attracted to a good-looking traveller. Well-intentioned but dramatically listless.

Glasgow Film Theatre, Friday until 18 August

Planes (U)

* *

A cropduster (voiced by Dane Cook) dreams of taking part in a round the world jet race. Basically Cars 2 with wings, this lacklustre 3D animation feels like everyone is on autopilot. It’s also surprising that a company as savvy as Disney indulges in crude stereotyping, with John Cleese as a stiff-upper-lipped spitfire, and a Mexican plane wearing a wrestling mask. A blatant divebomb on your child’s pocket money, this movie has an engine where its heart should be.

On general release from Friday

Twitter: @SiobhanSynnot