Tucked in between this summer’s CG blockbusters was an old-school buddy-movie that proved to be irresistible fun. Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington played two bank robbers who shared only one thing in common: both were unaware that the other was working undercover. So when they knock off a bank they think is working with the drug cartels, only to find out that their stolen money really belongs to the CIA, all heck breaks loose. You could injure your neck trying to untangle all the back-stabbing and two-timing that unfolds… or you could just soak up the charming chemistry between the two alpha-male stars.
Baltasar Kormákur, who’d worked with Wahlberg on Contraband, revisits an action genre that ruled the 1980s, when big stars weren’t courting superhero roles and there was something fascinating about two big stars going head-to-head, like 48 HRS. or Tango & Cash. With 2 Guns’ Blu-ray out on Tuesday, the Icelandic director discussed the prospects for a sequel, his new Everest movie with Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Brolin, and what people don’t really appreciate enough about Mark Wahlberg.
Click below for a Q+A and an exclusive video clip from the new Blu-ray:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: As someone who grew up watching and rewatching films like Midnight Run and Lethal Weapon, I much appreciated the spirit of 2 Guns.
BALTASAR KORMAKUR: I’m happy to hear that. Those were the films I had in mind. Honestly, those two movies, and Butch Cassidy. It’s the spirit I wanted for the film. Watching some of these comic-book movies – and this is based on a comic-book – I felt some of them have taken themselves very serious lately. It’s [supposed to be] make-believe fun. We are watching a movie; don’t forget it. At the same time, these guys aren’t on horses inside of a train jumping out, you know.
I understand that Mark loved the script, wanted to make the movie, but he was wide open to playing either character: the Navy Intelligence office, Stig, or the DEA agent, Bobby.
Actually, he was going to play Bobby, but I convinced him [to play Stig]. The great thing about Mark – he’s a producer, therefore he’s not necessarily from an egotistical place of mind like, “I’ve got to play that role because that’s more central.” He’s more like, “Let’s find a way to make this happen.” For me, there was no other way. Stig was the only way it could go for me.
Because Bobby may be lying closer to what he had been [playing]. He’d already done Contraband, and I felt Bobby may be closer to that character in some way than Stig. I knew, in some ways, Mark would like to be seen as closer to Bobby [laughs]… maybe. But there’s another side of Mark, which is more out there and crazy, you know, from his younger days. He is a bit of a loose cannon, and that’s what I love about him. I know Mark’s a great improvisor. People probably don’t realize just how good. I just through he would be more perfect for the part [of Stig].
The film has a satisfying conclusion, but I also think there’s more to be told about these characters. Have you already discussed that possibility?
Yeah, [Mark and I] talked about it as a possibility, absolutely, but it hasn’t got to the stage of like, “Let’s do it.” Of course, I would love to, but that’s a financial discussion that I haven’t had. Certainly, there could be more to come from them. It’s a great opportunity to do that and have more fun, but if not, that’s fine.
In the meantime, you’re working on Everest, right, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, and John Hawkes?
And Jason Clarke as well. I’m starting in early January. What I really wanted with that film was to go maybe a little bit opposite to 2 Guns. It’s an ensemble. It’s about the mountain as well. It’s got a really strong ensemble – I mean they’re all stars but they fit into an ensemble. [We’ll shoot] in Nepal and Italy and London and some work will be done in Iceland, but most of it will be in Nepal and Italy.
There’s another Everest-titled film in the works – completely different in story, characters, and era – but nonetheless, I imagine it’s important to be first into theaters for obvious reasons.
Well, of course it is. You’d rather be first than second in that kind of a race. But it’s not so much in my control. Again, I think we’re ahead of the game right now but who knows when it comes out. I think [the rival project] might be starting a little bit later, but who knows. Of course, you’d rather be ahead of them, if you can.
Especially in this case, since being first might lay claim to the title…
At one point, you were also toying with the idea of making a Viking movie. Is that still in the cards?
That is my dream project. I want to make that my next film after Everest. We’re trying to get the financing down, so I’ll probably start working on that pretty soon.
What is your Viking story?
It’s a story about an enslaved Irishman who’s brought to Iceland into the Viking world. And he gets involved in a feud between two Viking leaders. It’s based loosely on Icelandic Sagas, which is one of the oldest literature in the world. It was written in 1300 and and it’s a huge source of literature that I kind of used as a grounding for this.
Can Mark play a Viking?
We haven’t discussed that, but who knows. [Laughs]