Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Edward James Olmos, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, Paula Patton
Blake Masters (Screenplay), Steven Grant (Graphic Novels)
"2 Guns" Is Instantly Forgettable Fun
While it may seem like a 2 1/2 star rating isn't exactly a rousing endorsement for 2 Guns, the latest film from Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur (Contraband, also starring Wahlberg), rest assured that I'm completely confident that a good majority of you that are looking for nothing more than an action-packed popcorn flick will have yourselves a good ole' time and rush home to accuse me of losing touch with my movie lover roots.
You can also rest assured that I have not, in fact, lost touch with my movie lover roots. I enjoyed 2 Guns for what it is - a two hour paint-by-numbers action flick made better by the inspired pairing of two of Hollywood's more likable household names, Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.
There are paycheck films. Then, there are good paycheck films. While neither Washington nor Wahlberg are called upon to stretch themselves as actors here, 2 Guns is an entertaining paycheck film featuring winning performances from both actors and enough genuine payoff moments for both that the average moviegoer isn't going to care one iota about the film's flaws. The flaws mostly belong to Kormakur, whose directorial style simply isn't up to par with the actors who manage to transcend the film. The film is adapted from a graphic novel by Steven Grant centered around two dudes who initially appear to be partners in crime, Bobby Trench (Washington) and Stig Stigman (Wahlberg). In actuality, Trench is with DEA while Stigman is with NCIS and both are tasked with trying to bring down a Mexican drug lord, Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos). The plan to make this happen apparently involves pulling off a robbery that ends up being far more serious than either of them realized, and when things don't go quite as planned suddenly both men find themselves disavowed and partnered for real. Eventually, it's revealed that the money really belonged to the CIA with one seriously bad enforcer (Bill Paxton) determined to get the money back. James Marsden is here as Stig's commanding officer, who decides he wants a slice of the pie, while Trench's kinda sorta girlfriend (Paula Patton) also inserts herself into the picture.
While Washington and Wahlberg aren't exactly headed for the hall of fame of buddy flicks, the two certainly elevate the film with their witty and occasionally off-kilter dialogue and the fact that both actors are simply capable of owning the screen when they need to do so. The film's villains, most notably Marsden and Olmos, are drawn rather cartoonishly but their evilness certainly has an inspirational spark to it and they redeem themselves pretty nicely alongside Washington and Wahlberg. Paula Patton is not much more here than a plot point, at least until we get the obligatory nude shot that makes her otherwise pointless appearance forgivable.
The action set-ups are fun but not particularly original, but Kormakur keeps things moving at a nice pace and he has a nice touch with weaving together some humanity and humor into all the goings on. While there's nothing in 2 Guns that you're likely to remember once you leave the theater, the film will at least give you a solid two hours of escapist fun before sending you back out into the real world.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic