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This old school action-comedy about a DEA agent and a navy intelligence officer who are both trying to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel is brutal, fast-paced and a lot of fun, yet despite all the loud, brash action, it is resolutely hollow, too.

Denzel Washington’s DEA agent Bobby and Mark Wahlberg’s wise-cracking sidekick Stig are both out to get Edward James Olmos’ Mexican drug lord Papi Greco. Neither is aware of the other’s real identity, but they’re both landed on the run when a bank robbery sees them inadvertently steal a load of cash from the CIA. 

What follows is a frenetic narrative that crashes through fist fights, double crosses, raging bulls (you’ll see) and gun battles, and it is all carried off with a certain vintage action flick swagger. It’s completely fun, and will keep you guessing to the end, but there are issues amidst all the blood and explosions. 

First up, neither Bobby or Stig are particularly likeable – they’re both essentially good guys, but they’re unpleasant ones all the same. And with all the carnage it is hard to care what really happens, who wins, who gets the US$43m in cold crisp notes, and who winds up riddled with holes. The upshot of this is that all the well-staged action is dour and carries no consequence. 

What does work well is the two leads’ chemistry, as they exchange gags with fluidity and panache, especially once they begin to realise the rabbit warren of a problem they have got themselves into. If you like dumb action movies that require you to switch your brain to its ‘off’ setting, this is your bag. 

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington | 15 | 108mins | Out Aug 16 

Good for: Two hours of mindless escapism.


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2 Guns - film review: Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington star in this action-comedy
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