– Summary –
Director : Baltasar Kormakur
Year Of Release : 2013
Principal Cast : Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos, Robert John Burke.
Approx Running Time : 109 Minutes
Synopsis: An undercover DEA agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer team up to recapture a stolen wad of money, getting in the way of a Mexican drug baron, a sum’bitch CIA agent and a dedicated Naval commander.
What we think : Wahlberg and Washington are in top form here, chewing through this pulp-fiction flick about drugs, undercover agents and the pursuit of happiness. Scripted with a touch of insanity, filmed with a vastly superior style than Kormakur’s previous Wahlberg colab (Contaband), and delivered with just the right amount of tongue in cheek, 2 Guns is harmful fun in the best possible way.
2 guns 2 furious.
Sometimes, film is meant to enlighten, uplift or stimulate the intellect. 2 Guns isn’t one of those films. 2 Guns is, as the title might indicate, one of those John Woo-inspired run-n-gun American action flicks that puts two charismatic film stars in the same film and let them loose on a plot so idiotic, so brilliantly insane, that its hard to see how it might fail. 2 Guns doesn’t fail – although it doesn’t really deliver the promise of whacked-out gun-totin’ fun like I’d hoped – but it’s hardly as memorable as it tries to be. 2 Guns represents the best of what I’d term “fast food cinema”, the kind of disposable filler films you’d watch to kill off a lazy, rain-soaked Sunday night in front of the box. You watch it, enjoy it, then forget. The film boasts a solid cast (Wahlberg and Washington aside) that chews the fat with that sly glint in the eye you need for a story such as this, and director Kormakur’s work here far exceeds what I got while watching Contraband, so if it’s violently kinetic action and sparkling verbal repartee between two Hollywood stars doing what they do best, then 2 Guns comes thoroughly recommended.
Synopsis courtesy Wikipedia: Criminals Robert Trench (Denzel Washington) and Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) are arrested by U.S. Customs after a meeting with drug lord Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) in Mexico. Unknown to Stigman, Trench is an undercover DEA agent and reports to his superior, Jessup (Robert John Burke), that he failed to acquire cocaine from Greco that they could use as evidence to convict him. Against Jessup’s orders, Trench decides to remain undercover and assist Stigman in robbing $3 million from Greco, so they can prosecute Greco for money laundering. Trench later meets with his lover, Deb Rees (Paula Patton), who is involved with another man as well, while Stigman, an undercover Naval Intelligence Officer, meets with his commanding officer, Harold Quince (James Marsden), who instructs Stigman to kill Trench so the Navy can use the stolen money to fund covert operations. Trench and Stigman are surprised to find $43 million (rather than $3 million) in the vault. After the heist, Stigman follows orders to betray Trench and escape with the money. He suspects Trench is a cop and shoots to wound instead of kill. Learning of this, Quince attempts to have Stigman killed. Stigman escapes after learning the money will be transferred to a Navy base in Corpus Christi. Meanwhile, CIA operative Earl (Bill Paxton) aggressively interrogates the bank manager about the money Trench and Stigman stole from him. As the lure of the money draws all the major players towards a violent confrontation, Trench and Stigman must come up with a plan to clear their names, but also stop any further action against them from being taken.
Watching actors of the caliber of Denzel Washington, Bill Paxton and Edward James Olmos has a grand old time in this film is entertainment enough. Watching Mark Wahlberg play a character in that zany, motor-mouth disarming-smile way he has is equally as entertaining. Seeing Paula Patton with her boobs out, ditto. 2 Guns has so much to offer the casual film fan, in that is aspires to be nothing short of a fun time at the movies, and that’s it. It’s hardly world-changing, it never steps wide of its own inherent silliness, and as long as you’re in on the joke it never really seems to matter. The film’s convoluted machinations and repeated monetary MacGuffin make for energetic, entertaining fare that is as slickly made as it is stylishly comprehensive. As I mentioned in the opener, this is perfect, deep-fried fast food cinema, the kind of Happy Meal that comes complete with explosions, double-crosses and a great deal of good-old American posturing.
Films like 2 Guns come along every so often, clang about the box-office for a few weeks before sliding quickly into VOD or DVD sales before the year is out – 2 Guns isn’t a game changing example of this genre, but it delivers deft thrills and laughs thanks to Washington and Wahlberg. Neither actor is off-screen from the other for very long; perhaps it was contractual that they appear in nearly every single scene together, I’m not sure, but for those wanting a double-barrel dose of both stars in action, this film certainly delivers. Washington chews scenery like only he can, ripping into his character and providing a highly satisfying performance that accentuates and magnifies that of his co-star. Wahlberg, who goes into fast-talking mode in this film, matches Washington step-for-step, even if the film is slanted towards Trench being the leading character, and Stigman merely his associate by proximity. Paula Patton’s boobs come out early, but go away too fast as Deb, and from there her role isn’t really that interesting other than to provide a crutch for Trench to develop as a character himself. Edward James Olmos and Bill Paxton have devil-may-care fun as the films’ dual antagonists, working ostensibly for each other while at the same time, against each other. It’s a delicious combination that must have been a dream casting session to fulfill. Paxton’s nasty, Russian Roulette-weaving CIA character could have been utilized more, frankly, because each time he’s on the screen, the tension and excitement ramps up another notch. James Marsden’s Navy Commander character is the blank slate of the story, contrived to be another bit of grist in the gears and who brings virtually nothing to the table other than another gun.
The film is directed with accomplished style by Baltasar Kormakur, and generates a lot of its energy from the rapid-fire editing and slick Hollywood production values. One point to add, though, and I should make this a general shout-out to action directors across the globe: when you’re shooting action sequences, hold the f@cking camera steady! In small doses, that wobbly-cam effect can be useful and stylish, but every time the carnage begins and you feel the need to shake the camera about for added impact, don’t. Just. Don’t. Otherwise, 2 Guns is a slickly shot work of pulp fiction, the inevitably frenetic finale careening from explosion to gun-battle to blood-soaked closing credits with all the thunderous fury the sound editing bay can muster. Speaking of which, Michael Tronick’s editing is seamless, giving us nice balance between character, comedy and action. It’s a fruitful addition to your production to have Tronick at the helm of your editing software. Equal praise must also go to DP Oliver Wood (whose work on the original Bourne trilogy was superb, IMO), lensing this thing with the crisp, high-def style most modern actioners are given these days. Having cut his teeth on films such as John Woo’s Face/Off, Renny Harlin’s Die Hard 2, and Jonathan Mostow’s U571 (among many others), his sense of action style is sublime.
2 Guns is a silly, unpretentious, violent action flick with two extremely watchable performances around which it all pivots. There’s no denying it’s beneath a lot of “serious” critics, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying – if not appreciating – this particular brand of insanity. Turn it up, turn off the brain, and prepare to laugh along with Wenzel and Mahlbeg as they bring out the hardware in this deliciously stupid, utterly fun action flick.
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