Denzel-Washington-and-Mark-Wahlberg-in-2-GunsFor all of its eye rolling conventionalities, Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur burst onto the Hollywood scene with his entertaining action thriller Contraband last year, and now he returns with his sophomore English language production, teaming up with Mark Wahlberg once again for 2 Guns. Although certainly as charming and endearingly faithful to the genre, this isn’t quite so sharp and polished as the director’s previous Tinseltown endeavour.

Denzel Washington plays Bobby, an undercover DEA agent who uses the opportunist criminal Stig (Wahlberg) to rob a bank with the hope of discovering enough drug money belonging to crime lord Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) to finally take the long-term target down. However little does Bobby know, but Stig is also on the right side of the law, as a naval intelligence officer on an undercover mission of his own, as the pair get drawn into a world of corruption and deceit, whilst CIA agent Earl (Bill Paxton) is on their tail. Knowing who to trust becomes the key factor in who will emerge from this debacle alive, as Bobby even begins to question those closest to him, including his other half – and fellow cop – Deb (Paula Patton).

2 Guns is extremely reliant on having a strong chemistry between our two protagonists, and fortunately there is a genuine sense of congeniality on show, as both Washington and Wahlberg ensure that the film doesn’t fall completely flat on its face. It’s surprising to know that both Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson were originally in line to play Bobby and Stig, respectively – as although they may have a strong degree of chemistry, they lack that effortless swagger that the two chosen actors possess.

Such swagger, however, does lead to some problems of its own, as the dialogue can feel rather contrived and forced on occasion, with witty banter implemented in such predictable places. Just when our leads are about to blow up a building they bicker about doughnuts – and though on the surface this sounds like it might be quite funny, it’s not quite so Tarantinoesque as you may hope it to be, lacking that natural charm and ingenuity.

Nonetheless, Bobby and Stig are likeable – if somewhat flawed – characters, and it becomes increasingly more enjoyable to see how the lines between who is good and who is evil are suitably blurred, as the audience also don’t know who to trust. However, we are taken on so many varying twists and turns, that it becomes too convoluted at certain points, perhaps just taking one turn too many. It does manages to maintain your attention though, as you can’t help but feel intrigued as to how this story will conclude, with so many loose ends in desperate need of tying up.

The ending is somewhat lazy and underwhelming however, leaving too many aspects to our narrative without distinct explanation, with some sub-plots concluding unnaturally and far too deftly. You certainly can’t deny the enjoyment to be had, but it feels all too similar to what we have seen before, as one hopes that Kormákur may now be willing to take more risks with his third Hollywood outing. That said, fair play to writer Blake Masters for not being afraid in pointing the finger at various treasured institutions – as extortion and dishonesty is rife in this war between the CIA, the police force and the Navy, with, let’s just say, no-one coming out smelling of roses.