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Great Guns hits target

2 Guns Action thriller. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos. Directed by Baltasar Kormakur. Cert 15a

After a summer of bloated, disappointing blockbusters it's rather refreshing to come across a movie which doesn't take itself too seriously and merely (merely?) delivers oodles of old-school entertainment.

If a film is to go down the buddy/action route then the chemistry between the leads has to be bang-on and you also need a decent villain lurking menacingly about the place and 2 Guns certainly has those elements in place.

A throwback to the likes of 48 Hours and the Lethal Weapon movies, the film relies on the interplay between Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington to carry it over some bumpy plot points, but they carry it off effortlessly.

When we first meet Stig Stillman (Wahlberg) and Bobby Trench (Washington) they're chatting in a diner across from a bank they're about to rob, only to abandon their plans and set the place on fire.

BREEZE

A flashback to the week previously and a meeting with a Mexican drug baron (Edward James Olmos) reveals a more salient back story before we're back in the present and the pair actually carry out the robbery.

However, in a twist which owes much to the 1973 Don Siegel movie Charley Varrick, they discover that they've walked away with much, much more than they bargained for and thus now have the Mexicans and a ruthless CIA agent (played with great relish by Bill Paxton) on their trail.

For added fun, it turns out that Stig and Bobby were both undercover for different agencies (not a spoiler, it's in the trailer) and are now left swinging in the breeze.

2 Guns does at times tie itself up in knots as double-cross piles upon double-cross and the final showdown is faintly ridiculous.

But, that said, it's been a long time since a movie in this genre was delivered with such genuine verve.

Kudos so to Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur (who recently gave us The Deep) for giving us two proper film stars giving their all in a proper action film.

And not a giant robot in sight.

4 STARS

KICK-ASS 2 Fantasy. Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey, John Leguizamo, Donald Faison, Morris Chestnut. Directed by Jeff Wadlow. Cert 16

The follow-up to 2010's Kick-Ass received a massive dollop of pre-publicity with the announcement that one of its stars, the presumably extremely well-paid Jim Carrey, wouldn't be doing any pre-publicity. Apparently, Mr Carrey was appalled by the "levels of violence" in the film and flew by private jet to the moral high ground where, no doubt, he may well in future read a script before he walks on set and cashes the cheque.

Aside from Carrey's ridiculous strop – at one point his character orders a dog to chow down on a gangster's genitals for God's sake, what "level of violence" is that? – there are more serious problems with this latest comic-book adaptation.

The tone of the original was wobbly at the best of times, the makers never really deciding whether they were satirising superhero movies or making one and that dilemma is compounded here.

The premise is your standard superhero trope of semi-retired characters getting back together for the greater good, thus Kick-Ass/David Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit Girl/Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) are variously in and out of action until their hand is forced by Red Mist/Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), now calling himself The Mother******, who's amassed an army of badasses to perform some vague villainy or other.

This truly is a terrible movie, with a thoroughly pointless sub-Mean Girls plotline lobbed in halfway through, graphic bloodletting sitting uneasily alongside knockabout comedy and a rather disturbing undercurrent of sexual violence peeking through with distressing regularity.

Please God let there not be another of these.

1 STAR

KUMA Drama. Starring Nihal Koldas, Begum Akkaya, Vedat Erincin, Murathan Muslu, Alev Irmak, Dilara Karabayir. Directed by Umut Dag. Cert Club, showing exclusively at the lighthouse

The debut feature from the Austrian-based director of Kurdish extraction, Umut Dag, is a beautifully balanced domestic drama which, like most impeccably written screenplays, opens the audience's eyes to much more than what we witness onscreen.

Opening with scenes of a wedding in the wilds of rural Anatolia, we immediately sense that there's something amiss in the union of the innocent-looking Ayse (Begum Akkaya, in only her second film) and Hasan (Murathan Muslu), mainly through the displeasure of Hasan's sister Nurcan (Dilara Karabayir) at the marriage taking place at all.

Shifting location to Vienna and it becomes clear what's happening, with the family matriarch Fatma (Nihal Koldis) suffering from cancer and arranging Ayse as a surrogate bride for her husband Mustafa (Vedat Erincin), the marriage to Hasan being merely to get her into Austria.

From there, what evolves is a gently gripping tale of an innocent abroad, gradually overcoming hostility and finding her place within a group of women who may be saddled with all the domestic duties but really rule the roost.

It's an intelligent, moving story with great performances from the veteran Koldas and newcomer Akkaya and one can only relish the prospect of what this debutante director has to offer in the future. HHHHI

PLANES Animation. Featuring the voices of Dane Cook, Brad Garrett, Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards. Directed by Klay Hall. Cert General

The prospect of a spin-off from the Cars universe didn't exactly set pulses racing (unless, of course, you happen to own a toy store, in which case happy days) but this Disney animation is a charming enough affair.

Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is a cropdusting plane who dreams of taking part in a round-the-world race against the top planes in the world and, with the help of veteran warplane Skipper (Stacy Keach) he gets to do just that.

It's the classic 'little guy gets his chance' tale delivered with a fine voice cast, excellent animation and with a couple of smart Top Gun references to keep the grown-ups happy. And, unlike Cars, there are no characters to set adult teeth on edge. Perfectly fine: fly along now. HHHII


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