In a year where '80s throwbacks are all the rage, 2 Guns is probably the best example of throwback done right. The plot is unnecessarily convoluted, filled with too many villains to keep track of, but anchored firmly by charismatic leads, Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington. Their chemistry together is worth the price of admission, and could be the beginnings of a burgeoning movie friendship if they play their cards right.
Bobby Trench (Washington) is an undercover DEA agent, while Michael Stigman (Wahlberg) is undercover naval intelligence. Neither one knows the other’s true identity, but they end up pairing together to rob a prominent drug dealer (Edward James Olmos). When money goes missing, and the men are being hunted down, Bobby and Stig will have to band together to stay alive.
2 Guns is a guilty pleasure actioner with a heavy concentration of laughs and inanity. The plot involves two competing undercover groups who believe they’re double-crossing each other only to end up double-crossed themselves. While the various scheming and undermining becomes a bit tedious and hard to figure out - the script thinks it’s craftier than it is - the comedy is omnipresent. Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington have built their careers on blending action with comedy, and 2 Guns is impressive because of their ability to kick back and let loose. Washington is the straight man to Walhberg’s cocky flirt character. Each actor brings their own blend of charisma to the shine, and neither outshines the other. The opening scene with both men in a diner sets up the comedic dynamics at play; both are man’s men, but band together to become brothers-in-arms by story’s end.
If anything, 2 Guns never believes in the possibilities of the action/comedy genre, hence the overly convoluted plot. The bare bones of the story is engaging - both men are different undercover entities who believe the other is really a criminal - and it’s surprising how quickly that’s resolved. The actual robbery and double-cross in the trailers is resolved within the first thirty minutes or so, and from there the plot layers on each man being betrayed by their own government body, forcing them to come back together. It should be easy to decipher who the good and bad guys are, but there are three separate villains (and one female quasi-love interest) all with various motivations and connections to various characters. Each villain is remarkably campy in their own way, particularly Bill Paxton’s rouge CIA operative, Earl. Paxton’s Southern drawl and love for Russian roulette turns him into a Bond villain of sorts, all of which is negated in one sequence where graphically panders to Olmos’ masculinity in a scene that will leave you in stitches because he’s playing it so seriously. The other villains, played by the aforementioned Olmos and James Marsden, are okay, but they really serve no purpose other than to enact death threats on Washington and Wahlberg’s characters.
And let’s briefly touch on Paula Patton as Deb. Patton has major star potential; if she could just find better material (she had a start with the last Mission Impossible movie). Here, she plays Deb, a girlfriend/friend with benefits to Washington’s Bobby. Patton does absolutely nothing throughout the entire movie other than look shocked and be naked. Seriously, this movie has one of the most gratuitous nude scenes of the year. I’m all for a naked sex scene, but when you don’t show the sex - simply the naked woman walking and talking for no reason - you’re catering to one demographic of your audience. Sadly, her character is dispatched in such a way you’re meant to feel bad, especially since Bobby uses her death as revenge. Unfortunately, she serves no purpose and there’s no development to their relationship, leaving both avenues for sympathy empty.
Thankfully, the rest of the movie entertains and keeps the bullets flying and the one-liners zinging. A sequence where Washington and Wahlberg are avoiding a bull is intense and funny for the two actors dialogue which runs through it. If anything, I’d watch the further adventures of these characters just to keep Washington and Wahlberg together. They have an undeniable brotherly chemistry which could give them the makings for a Lethal Weapon-esque spin-off.
Most of the bonus content on the disc is EPK footage, interviewing the cast about their characters, detailing how cars were blown up, and the creation of the movie itself. It’s nothing worth getting excited over, particularly because they’re fairly shot. “Undercover and into Action” is interesting as graphic novelist Steven Grant explains how the movie adapted his graphic novel into the completed story. Some significant changes went into the production, and it’s an interesting glimpse into the world of adaptation and is the best featurette of the bunch. There are a few deleted and extended sequences which do little other than provide a few additional laughs and extended action sequences. The audio commentary with director Baltasar Kormakur and producer Adam Siegel is also a fun one-off feature wherein they discuss the actors, filming, and the like. If you’ve listened to other action/comedy commentaries there’s little new here, but it’s a fun listen if you want a deeper understanding of shot composition, and the actors. The Blu-ray looks and sounds great (although with my speaker set-up the action sounds were a bit overpowering). It also includes the DVD as well as a code for a digital copy via UltraViolet.
All in all, 2 Guns is a fun distraction, particularly if you enjoy buddy comedies. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are a fun team, able to handle the machinations of the overly complex plot. There are a few missteps with the villains and the female lead, but you can tell they’re unimportant when put up against the leading men.
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