2 Guns Director: Baltasar KormÃ¡kur
Screenwriter: Blake Masters
Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Edward James Olmos, Fred Ward Universal Pictures
Rated R | 109 Minutes
Release Date: August 2, 2013
Had 2 Guns been released in 1997, it would have been directed by Renny Harlin or Sheldon Lettich with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dennis Rodman Wesley Snipes as counter-terrorist operatives framed for a crime they didn’t commit.
The film’s tag line would be something like “They don’t play by the rules,” and the trailer would highlight the unlikely duo as a highly effective tag-team of street smarts and technical precision, dealing out one-liners and helicopter spin-kicks amidst explosions and shoot-outs.
Luckily, it isn’t 1997 – because I would be in middle school – and 2 Guns is an entirely solid, straightforward “Movie for Guys Who Like Movies” directed by Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar KormÃ¡kur (101 ReykjavÃk, Contraband). Based on a comic book series of the same name published by BOOM! Studios, 2 Guns stars Denzel Washington as DEA Agent Bobby Trench and Mark Wahlberg as NCIS Agent Marcus Stigman, two undercover operatives who are unknowingly investigating each other.
Trench and Stigman are part of an elaborate scheme to heist $3 million from Mexican drug lord Papi Grecoa (Edward James Olmos), but end up with $43 million – inadvertently stealing stacks of cash belonging to a two-faced CIA bigwig (Bill Paxton) in cahoots with Papi Grecoa. The DEA and US Navy deny any knowledge of Trench and Stigman’s undercover activities and now the two fugitives are on the run, looking to strike a deal with the corrupt CIA in an effort to return the money and clear their name.
Without the one-two punch of Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, an old-fashioned shoot ’em up like 2 Guns could get lost in the shuffle of sci-fi blockbusters and superhero spectacles but, with their on-screen chemistry and undeniable star power, 2 Guns might just succeed in a summer jam-packed with box office bombs.
Ironically enough, if 2 Guns had been released in ’97, I’m pretty sure Bill Paxton and Edward James Almos would be playing the exact same characters: eccentric, psychotic individuals hellbent on finding new, inventive ways to torture those who get in their way. Paula Patton (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) and James Marsden (X-Men) also co-star, but it’s Paxton’s CIA cowboy (complete with mustache and shoestring necktie) who steals the show as the kind of southern-fried sleazebag you’d expect to see in William Friedkin’s Killer Joe.
The main selling point of the film, of course, is Wahlberg and Washington who take a by-the-numbers buddy cop movie and turn it into an above-average action flick for audiences tired of pixelated destruction porn and shaky-cam insanity. Is 2 Guns a great piece of cinema? No, not really – but it’s a bit of no-frills fun, a mix of Bad Boys and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with some solid performances, a few laughs, and enough twists and turns to keep you interested in the well-worn premise.
PS:Fred Ward (Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Tremors) is in this movie, guys. If that doesn’t get you excited, then I can’t help you.
PPS: If 2 Guns is successful enough to warrant a sequel, what will Universal Pictures title it? 2 Guns 2 Furious has a nice ring to it, or what about 2 Guns: Tons of Fun, or maybe even 2 Guns 2: To Wong Foo? Sorry, I’ll be going now!