There's been a lot of action at the movies this summer, very little of it memorable.
So Baltasar Kormakur's 2 Guns comes as a welcome surprise: a film with the wit, tension and sheer headlong pace to grab and hold your attention for a brisk 106 minutes.
Yes, that's right -- finally, there's a summer movie with high-value stars that doesn't drag on into the next day. After a season of two-hour-plus behemoths, Kormakur proves it's possible to tell a tight, taut story without skimping on humor or action.
Kormakur had a leg up to start with, thanks to a smart, funny script by Blake Masters, who wrote the unfortunately short-lived Showtime series Brotherhood. (Find it and watch it if you want a primer on how to write a brainy, exciting show.) With 2 Guns, he's working from a series of graphic novels of the same name, and etches each character with enough tartness and heart to let you plug in to all of them immediately.
Of course, 90 percent of directing is casting. Kormakur scores big here as well, with a cast that starts with Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington - the happiest pairing since Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 HRS - and goes deep into the lineup: Paula Patton, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos, Fred Ward and, last but definitely not least, Bill Paxton. Each of them creates a memorable moment - more than one - yet none of them shows off or otherwise draws attention away from the story itself and the characters in it.
At the center are Washington and Wahlberg as Bobby and Stig, an odd couple who seemingly are trying to rob a bank in a tiny Texas town. But as quickly becomes apparent (and this isn't a spoiler because it's in the commercials), each is a lawman working undercover - unaware that his partner is also upholding, rather than breaking, the law.
This review continues on my website.