Bullet time – 2 Guns review

2 Guns

By Simon Miraudo
October 8, 2013

There are actually 111 guns in 2 Guns, but that sum doesn’t include concealed weapons, so we’ll never really know the truth. This was an independent count, conducted by myself, during a first viewing of Baltasar Kormákur‘s double-cross crime comedy. (I say ‘first’ as if it will be followed by a ‘second.’ It will not.) Some sequences feature bags brimming with assorted pistols and rifles; I simply offered my best estimate in these instances. Also, I tried to not count the same piece more than once, no matter how often it was drawn during the picture’s 109-minute duration. I was able to devote that much time to recording the amount of artillery glimpsed because 2 Guns – despite its sporadic highlights and appealing actors – was just never distracting enough to tear me away from my task. And being distracting is pretty much its raison d’être. No one needs to walk away from 2 Guns pondering its great existential questions. Just keep us from brainlessly counting the guns.

Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington star in the flick, because someone has to, and these guys are handsome and charismatic, and an algorithm likely suggested their pairing would generate a big enough box office gross to justify its budget. Washington plays Bobby Trench, a DEA agent posing as a gold-toothed drug dealer, working to bring down Mexican kingpin Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos). While undercover, he befriended Stig (Wahlberg), a seemingly unhinged crook planning on heisting Papi’s cash from the bank. In actuality, he’s Naval officer Michael Stigman, tasked with grabbing Papi’s dirty money by his superiors. They drop the façade soon after carrying out the robbery, each planning on taking the loot with them and handing it over to their respective bosses. But discovering their relationship was built on a foundation of lies won’t be the most painful revelation they make. When the motives of Bobby’s DEA agent ex-girlfriend (Paula Patton) and Stig’s commanding officer (James Marsden) come into question, they reluctantly team up to find out who’s really running the show. The answers will not surprise you!

2 Guns

Blake Masters adapts Steven Grant’s comic of the same name, and his script gives the leads plenty of opportunities to rib one another. If 2 Guns is worth seeing at all, it’s because Washington and Wahlberg are so effortlessly comfortable on screen in precisely these kinds of roles; the kind they’ve spent honing for close to two decades. They also get to share the stage with some amusing supporting players, such as Olmos, who is all moustache, as well as Bill Paxton, appearing as an ultra-violent CIA agent passing himself off as a kindly southern gentlemen. (It’s a weird choice. I was into it.) But they – like the highly-objectified Patton – are just window dressing. Consider the film’s poster: Wahlberg and Washington, back-to-back, firing handguns while money rains around them. This is an actual frame from the climactic action sequence. For all we know, the movie was given the green light based on the poster proposal alone. This review could never describe 2 Guns – or its quality – as concisely as that single image does.

There’s not really much else to say about 2 Guns, unless you would like me to elaborate on my gun count. (I spotted a rogue derringer.) There are a few nifty action set-pieces and shoot-outs, some nice scenery-chewing from all the villains, and a chicken-head-hunting gag that was both horrifying and hilarious. I only wish the picture had indulged its twisted side a little more frequently, if only to differentiate itself from the many, many similar pictures that have come before it. Kormákur (who previously worked with Wahlberg on Contraband) has succeeded in meeting the genre’s minimum requirements. That surely can’t be the benchmark. Can it?


Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews.

2 Guns arrives in Australian cinemas October 10, 2013.   

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