2 Guns gets its title because in several scenes in the film Mark Wahlberg's character holds a gun. And quite often do you see Denzel Washington walking around with a firearm in his hand as well. The film's theatrical poster shows Washington and Wahlberg back to back pointing their weapons as far out as their arms will extend, with a chopper hovering over them, and hundred dollar bills falling from the sky. You could just caption this poster, "the epitome of mainstream American cinema."
The month of August is generally when movies that didn't really have a place in the strong summer months of June and July and would likely be out of place if released in the awards-heavy months of the fall/early winter come out. I could think of no better time for 2 Guns to be released, the latest, dullest action film that has been released this year. Stylistically, it has some charm and the performances from the actors are mostly watchable. However, it doesn't take an elaborate analysis from anyone to realize that if you've at least paid some considerable attention to American film in the last four or five years that this is nothing new or special. In fact, with so much action and explosive set-pieces, it's ironic to state that the film constantly flatlines in the fields of writing and directing.
The film centers around DEA agent Bob Trench (Denzel Washington) and undercover Naval Intelligence officer Michael "Stig" Stigman (Mark Wahlberg), who are on the run after an attempt to infiltrate a drug cartel goes awry. They come to realize each other is an agent for some specific organization, and this erects trust issues between the men. However, they will need to forgo the fact that they kept a crucial part of their life hidden from one another in order to take down the cartel once and for all.
So there's your premise, but if you thought about seeing 2 Guns in the first place, do you even care? Did you even want to be burdened with a story? The film essentially feels like an array of flat humor, strays of dialog, and convoluted plot-points strung together by a standard storyline. It doesn't help that in addition to all the carnage and gunfire we get several characters to keep track of, not learning much about them along the way. Even our two leads are rather interchangeable; could you imagine them being played by two actors with not half the star-appeal of these two men? 2 Guns would've already been more forgettable than it is now.
Halfway through the film, one begins to realize that the film is essentially another empty exercise in modern action filmmaking and it would appear the writer and director are self aware of this. So what winds up happening is the film almost gives up on exposition and character motives and trades them in for complete and total reliance on starpower, which can only go so far. A good chunk of the film is banter, exchanged between Washington and Wahlberg, that often goes nowhere, is used as a desperate plea for humor, and mistakes repetition for wittiness. The first scene in the picture is Stig waiting in a diner for Bob to show up, as they sit on the phone with one another. Stig continues to tell the waitress at the diner everything Bob doesn't want, and when Bob finally shows up, he gives her what he really wants. But then he is bothered again by Stig, who consistently has to remark about what he orders, and what kind of bread he wants, and how he is a not American because he doesn't like pancakes, and so on. This kind of banter goes on and on, never reaching the comedic heights it likes to think it is.
The target audience for 2 Guns will likely enjoy it as escapist fare, and that's the job I have as a film journalist; to tell you if you're likely to enjoy it. I did not; I see it as a cheap exercise in action filmmaking that disregards the fundamentals of the genre such as tension and character. At one point, a random man in the audience stormed down the stairs of the theater, went to the base of the floor and yelled to the back of the room, "I'll be waiting outside so you can show me how f****** tough you are!" Why he was yelling that to a group of three people in the furthest row is a mystery to me, but the tension and uncertainty packed in that phrase - which took three seconds to speak - was more noticeable than in the one-hundred and five minutes excursion that is 2 Guns.
Reviewed by Steve Pulaski
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