When their heist nets them tens of millions, Bobby and Stig suspect one another of running a con — the twist being that Bobby and Stig only belatedly discover that they are both working undercover for separate law enforcement agencies. Can the feuding duo put their differences aside for long enough to work out who’s trying to kill them?
It’s a neat set-up to a conventional buddy-buddy cop movie, but Baltasar Kormákur’s film is a lot smarter and darker than the movie trailer’s knockabout comedy might have you believe. Bobby and Stig’s foes include a Mexican drug cartel and a shadowy intelligence organisation, neither of whom are shrinking violets when it comes to inventive ways of inflicting pain on our heroes, while the twists and turns are here concerned with an especially cynical corruption.
Washington and Wahlberg blend surprisingly well despite both taking on alpha male characters who get to play the funny guy, the pair relentlessly busting one another’s chops with a constant stream of one-upmanship. The casting is strong too, with actors like Bill Paxton and James Marsden in terrific form playing against type in the supporting roles, while Paula Patton steals virtually every scene she’s in as the obligatory femme fatale. It’s a funny, punchy and plausible action thriller.
There’s plenty of punch to Kick-Ass 2 (16s) too, although it rates pretty low on the plausibility register, despite a couple of the wannabe superhero characters reminding us that what we’re seeing isn’t a comic book, it’s real life. High school student Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) reinvented himself as the superhero Kick Ass in the original movie, and quickly realised that there were other ‘real life’ heroes working the streets, among them Mindy, aka Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz).
Now forbidden to play at superheroes by her guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut), Hit Girl must look on helplessly as self-styled super-villain Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) wreaks havoc on the team forming around Kick Ass, a team that includes The Colonel (Jim Carrey). Jeff Wadlow’s movie is very uneven in tone, unable to decide if it is a spoof of the caped crusader genre or a homage to it. There’s a cartoonish quality to the various geeks and loners who don their colourful uniforms to experience a fantasy, not least in the way the violence they receive and inflict is delivered in a slapstick fashion even when it’s vicious and lethal. Moretz is charming as the pocket-sized heroine who punches far above her weight, but even she can’t save Kick Ass 2.
The problem may be that the superhero genre is virtually satire-proof, but this is a especially humourless attempt that is devoid of any original ideas.
Based on real events and set in a grim and drab Sweden during the 1970s, Call Girl (16s) centres on Iris (Sofia Karemyr), a 14-year-old who has been entrusted to State care.
Iris falls into the clutches of Dagmar (Pernilla August), a madam who procures prostitutes to service a roster of clients that includes government ministers, and Mikael Marcimain’s film follows the downward spiral of Iris’s life as she falls deeper and deeper into her squalid existence.
In a parallel storyline, John Sandberg (Simon J. Berger) is a policeman investigating Dagmar’s operation, given the possibility that government ministers are compromising national security by exposing themselves to potential blackmail by consorting with prostitutes.
It’s a gripping story, not least because Marcimain focuses on the poignancy of Iris’s personal story of manipulation and abuse, all of which takes place against a backdrop of Sweden’s liberalising of attitudes towards sexuality, which included the lowering of the legal age of consent.
There is a strong sense throughout that Marcimain is asking the audience to draw its own conclusions about the moral context of the historical events portrayed, ensuring that Call Girl, which arrives in the wake of a number of popular Scandinavian Noir TV series, succeeds as a thoughtful thriller about personal and political corruption.