(First published in The New Indian Express)
There are actors who have a certain character traits thanks to their filmography that if they change it up a bit, it can get funny or intriguing or jarring. Sometimes they pull it off. And even when they don’t, it is not their fault. It is mostly ours. Their performance is as sincere as any other servicing a character written for them. Denzel Washington’s in 2 Guns directed by Baltasar Kormákur is one such. We associate Denzel Washington with matured, serious, brooding characters that when he is playing a part serious, part playful DEA agent in what is effectively a buddy cop film, it can mess with your memory of the actor. The character and the film seem straight up the alley of someone like Will Smith.
Mark Wahlberg plays the buddy with a lot more ease. A naval officer who prides in never missing a shot, Wahlberg’s Michael Stigman is the only character in the film who doesn’t take the whole thing too seriously. The two get caught up in an array of miscommunication, corruption and betrayal in their respective chain of command and the Mexican drug cartel.
2 Guns is a genre exercise in old school action. But what is old school action these days? Apparently anything that doesn’t involve CGI and superheroes seems to be old school. Such films are so far and few in between these days that it doesn’t take much to feel a bit of 90s nostalgia for such movies. Unstoppable starring Denzel Washington again was one such old school film that was most impressive in the last few years. In a possible hat tip to Tarantino, the film begins with Washington and Wahlberg in a cafe ordering breakfast and well, they don’t rob it but simply torch it in the most precise manner possible. What they do rob is a bank and in fact the repeated axiom – “Never rob a bank across from a diner that has the best donuts in three counties” has got to be poor man’s Tarantino.
2 Guns works in parts and owes a lot to Mark Wahlberg’s motor mouth performance and record quips per minute with the greatest involving a Mexican drug kingpin and Albert Einstein. This is no character study around drug business like TV’s Breaking Bad or the business itself like Traffic but for the action enthusiasts, this might just give the high.