Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Starring: Denzel Washington, Mark Walhberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos.
Written by: Blake Masters and (based on the Boom! Studios graphic novels) Steven Grant
Running Time: 109 mins
Release date: 16th August 2013
Isn’t it strange. You wait for ages for a buddy buddy movie to come out and two come in quick succession. A few weeks ago we had the female buddy film The Heat and now we are in more familiar territory with a crime caper/buddy buddy cop thriller starring two of Hollywood’s big players. Thankfully they are here because this could have been just another routine, cliched filled thriller but add a touch of Denzel Washington and Mark Walhberg and watch the magic happen.
Bobby Trench and Michael Stigman are in the middle of a drugs deal with Mexican gang lord Papi Greco. When the deal goes sour, the guys decide to rob the bank Papi has been stashing his money in. Everything goes off fine until they realise that the small amount of $3 million has grown into $64 million. Something isn’t right. Something also isn’t right in the fact that Bobby is DEA and Stig is Naval Intelligence and they get the feeling they’ve been set up, especially as the money belongs to an unexpected source.
Based on a series of graphic novels, this is essentially an all-action thriller with loads of shooting, explosions and violent and a plot that sometimes is so contrived you spend most of the time shaking your head in disgust as to how obvious the plot is being driven.
This could have been a massive problem and would have made this a bad movie to view and I would be saying stay clear of it. But I’m not. Instead I’m saying give it a go because for all of its faults, this is quite an enjoyable romp that, if you are a fan of these kinds of film, you will find much to recommend. Director Baltasar Kormakur (who directed the thriller Contraband) has a good eye for an effective set piece and there are loads in the fairly short running time of 109 mins. We get car chases, massive explosions, shoot-out galore and they are all handled with a deft hand.
The real ace of the film is the casting. It’s nice to see season veterans Fred Ward, Edward James Olson and Bill Paxton back on the big screen where they belong. Paxton gets the best bite of the apple, as a sinister FBI agent with a liking for an unusual game of Russian Roulette. Paula Patton, who made her mark in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, is fine as the eye candy for the men but is given very little in the action stakes.
However, the film definitely belongs to Washington and Walhberg. Adding their obvious talents to the film rises above the mundane and their partnership sparkles. Witty banter and sharp one-liners come flying out of their mouths as they fight between themselves like an old married couple. Apart they are fine, Washington, donning a goatie and gold teeth always brings class to whatever he does while Walhberg is slowly becoming the go-to guy for action films with a hint of comedy. The film lifts whenever the pair are together and they make a great double act.
So it’s noisy and violent and a little sexist in places and the plot becomes so complicated at times, you’d need a map to follow who is double crossing who. In the end it’s a fine piece of popcorn fodder that does the job it sets out to do: be a mindless, action packed comedy thriller that proves to Hollywood that if you get the right combination in the leads, then everything else will follow nicely.
In a year when the Summer blockbusters have failed to deliver time and time again, at last a film that might be a no-brainer but at least it isn’t afraid to admit. Get yourself a bucket of popcorn, a large drink and just enjoy watching to pros at work.