2 Guns Directed by: Baltasar Komarkur Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Edward James Olmos Running Time: 1 hr 49 mins Rating: R Release Date: August 2, 2013
PLOT: Undercover DEA cop Bobby (Washington) and secret Special Forces guy Stig (Wahlberg) rob a bank with different intentions, while their true identities unbeknown to each other. They soon find out that they took money from the CIA, (represented by Paxton) and not the intended Mexican smuggler (Olmos).
WHO'S IT FOR? Curious about Wahlberg finally working with Washington? 2 Guns is worth a look. Action junkies solely expecting shoot-em-ups will not have their gun lust satiated.
EXPECTATIONS: Wahlberg's previous endeavor with director Komarkur Contraband turned out to be a nice surprise of a rental, and certainly a strong divergence from typical action thriller fare. With Washington now added to the picture, one could only imagine what kind of charisma would be on display with such a great casting idea.
Mark Wahlberg as Michael 'Stig' Stigman: Similar to his appearances in movies like Pain & Gain and even Ted, this burly lunkhead plays into Wahlberg's recent affinity for dopey males. The excitable one of this movie's odd couple, Wahlberg continues to be worth his action/comedy salt, with a motormouth that especially makes for solid laughs during purer moments of comic relief. Score: 6
Denzel Washington as Robert 'Bobby' Trench: Along with Wahlberg, Washington coasts through this movie at a steady speed that doesn't registers more at comfortable than lazy. His trademark furrowed brow and fast wit are still in place, with his usual trend of condescending towards his (young, white) partners reduced. As Washington can create the biggest of thrills in the smallest displays of bad behavior, he nonetheless provides his audience with numerous moments that play into the dark comedy of his inherent machismo. Score: 6
Paula Patton as Deb: Patton is often reliable for stronger parts, but her importance in 2 Guns is instantly minimized the second she is introduced, and then later shown naked in bed. She makes for a couple of flighty scenes between Washington concerning their lingering sexual chemistry, but it is certainly disappointing to see Patton crushed into being a damsel in distress. Score: 4
Rest of Cast: While 2 Guns may be steered by two goofy leads, the movie does find its necessary seriousness thanks to the dark roles portrayed with zeal by Bill Paxton and Edward James Olmos. Both of these unsuspecting villains contribute in making this overly complicated story one worth following, especially with their scenes of sociopath sadism that make the two of them a bit more special than just angry men who know how to hurt people. Score: 6
TALKING: Initiating audiences into an atmosphere a tad pulpier than any regular action movie, 2 Guns utilizes a wealthy amount of carefully crafted zingers that make for on-target comic relief. With the snarky dialogue that is written for them, Wahlberg and Washington especially are able to keeps the script flowing as a whole despite the story's sharp turns. Score: 7
SIGHTS: With huge displays of simple-minded action saved until the big showdown at the end, this modern western is much more loaded with scenes that rely on tension, whether it's comedic or dramatic. Whenever 2 Guns does pop, it is with the controlled eye of director Komarkur who lets his scenes of combat play out confidently without using tricky editing or camera angles. Score: 6
SOUNDS: 2 Guns matches the twisty story's placement in the wild wild border of US and Mexico by melding two types of music - basslines that seem borrowed from Ocean's Eleven, and sporadic interludes from Spanish guitars. A song by Danger Mouse feature Jack White is even included during the montage to match the film's colorful way of musically treating atmosphere. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: A game of vehicular chicken (with "Mexican Einstein" Olmos in the trunk) provides a strong moment in this story's odd couple chemistry. To have them fighting like kids after smashing into each other is a fitful and very funny conclusion to an inspired moment.
ENDING: After riding out into the sunset, Bobby shows that he's a good tipper, and winks at the camera.
QUESTIONS: Is the graphic novel that this film is based on any good?
REWATCHABILITY: The charisma between the two is great, but the story comes out so oddly that an immediate second viewing of the film could prove very tedious.
Kinda like The Big Lebowski, 2 Guns plays out like a bizarre parody on the storytelling cliche of double identities, twists, and other forms of plot-playing madcappery. The original concept of the movie is goofy in itself, ("No, Frank, listen, they're BOTH undercover, but they don't know it at first!" screams the studio exec). Most films save these types of devices for select crucial moments and keep them close to the chest, whereas 2 Guns unleashes them round after round as if its the only way to keep an audience engrossed to a story that doesn't have someone getting ripped up by bullets every five minutes. Back-stabbings are a rampant form of communication, even if they seem to come from the most left of fields. But for such a simple and fun double undercover thriller, 2 Guns doesn't find a particularly productive boost by over-complicating things; it just makes this tangled plot about the DEA and the Navy robbing a bank even stranger.
2 Guns is directed by the notable Komarkur, an Icelandic filmmaker who became a valuable import for American action with his 2012 exporting thriller Contraband. That film also starred Wahlberg, and featured a distinctive cool pacing built on tense moments, comedic or dramatic, much more than firepower displays. Komarkur continues to show that extremely welcome maturity with his storytelling spectacle in 2 Guns, portioning out his story so that it doesn't minimize the audience's expectations to relying on body counts or outright displays of violence, but instead the anticipation of unique confrontations between characters with foundations that are sound enough. And whereas his big second act shoot-out in Contraband felt like a producer's demand compared to the more urgent thrills found elsewhere in the script, his second big actioner 2 Guns does reasonably deliver with its more mindless moments of gun combat.
Introducing us to the summer season’s last month, 2 Guns is one of the more surprising entries to be found in 2013’s star-aligning entertainment. It has clever moments to be found in the midst of its wolfish amount of script twists, with a playful pulpy flavor that elevates this movie’s atmosphere beyond that of typical genre fare. And while the relaxed repartee of the overdue matching of Wahlberg & Washington does not disappoint, it turns out it’s the Icelandic addition to the chemistry of these two American thoroughbreds that keeps this film smooth while it watches itself become an example of why greediness just makes everything even messier.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10