DIRECTOR: Baltasar Kom
CAST: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Edward James Olmos, Bill Paxton, James Marsden
CLASSIFICATION: 16 LVN
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
RATING: 3 stars (out of 5)
This film is a ridiculous amount of fun, as long as you don’t think too deeply about the casual and callous attitude displayed towards violence.
Based on a graphic novel, the film takes its cue as much from its comic book source material as its two leads.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg play small-time gun/ drug smugglers who, unbeknown to each other, are actually undercover law enforcement officers.
They are double-crossed by their respective agencies and reluctantly team up to stay alive.
While the film pretty much follows the mismatched buddy cop team-up formula, the fun creeps in in how the two play characters we have seen them play before (it’s also funny considering Wahlberg totally satirised the whole concept in The Other Guys).
Their interaction has a playful tone, but there is a touch of realism too, making for a surprisingly funny duo in a would-be action film.
Washington does tough, no-nonsense loner as Bobby Trench, bit of a cold fish really, with no friends. Totally committed to the job and not much else and way too serious, but that’s okay because Wahlberg brightens the mood.
Wahlberg makes of Michael “Stig” Stigman an easy going, free-wheeling guy-next-door, always ready with a quip or a wink for a pretty girl, who makes friends easily and never misses a shot.
Always ready to do the right things for a friend, which he finds in Washington’s character. Stig doesn’t know when to stop talking, or moving for that matter, but the ice in Bobby’s veins keeps things calm.
None of the assorted American law enforcement agencies comes off very well at all – between them Bill Paxton, Robert John Burke and James Marsden make the CIA, DEA and US Navy intelligence look very stupid – and the film drags when the two leads aren’t together on screen.
The graphic novel influences come in when you realise that only our two heroes can shoot straight, everyone else is cannon fodder.
They drive their assortment of American muscle cars and pick-ups, guns blazing, from scene to scene, picking off bad guys with ease to the point of ridiculousness.
The violence is gratuitously graphic with all those headshots displayed in digital gory detail, the twists that come are obvious and you know where this is going right from the get-go.
The over-saturated colours provided by the cinematography heighten the comic book feel and Clinton Shorter’s soundtrack displays a surprisingly light touch with its bluesy, hard rock feel.
The leads’ interaction keeps the momentum going until we get a real, honest to goodness Mexican stand-off with exploding cars, run away helicopters, Edward James Olmos cursing all and sundry, stampeding bulls and money flying all over the place.
You won’t remember much a week later, but in the moment the chemistry between the two actors is charming, despite all the flying bullets making for a preposterous story.
Comic book alright.
If you liked Killing Them Softly or The Losers you will like this.