Title: 2 Guns
Genre(s): Action, Comedy, Crime
Director(s): Baltasar Kormakur
Release Year: 2013
From the first trailer that was released for 2 Guns, I was not expecting anything great. It looked like a serious, but maybe slightly action-filled summer movie that would be forgotten soon after watching it. The buddy cop formula that has been beat to death this summer returns, this time with Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington pairing up for some high-octane thrills and criminal dealings. While the movie is definitely banking on its two leads as enough incentive to see this film, 2 Guns is much more than I expected it to be. To be fair, I expected a disappointment, but it was still rather shocking for the film to come out with me raving about some of its humor and scenes that felt right at home in this B-movie with an A-list cast. It may never quite reach the heights of some of the best B-movies out there, but this film definitely has enough nonsense in it to keep the cliches from degrading it too much.
The main fault of 2 Guns is how much it treats story as important. Normally, that would be fine, but the narrative for 2 Guns is merely a thread of plot twists that continue to unravel even until the very end, so much so that I gave up trying to figure out who was working for who and just tried to enjoy the film purely on an entertainment level. When that happened, every non-serious moment felt that much more rewarding. For those who are intrigued by the story, though, here it is: Michael ‘Stig’ Stigman (Wahlberg) and Robert ‘Bobby Beans’ Trench (Washington) are two undercover agents who are forced to work together in order to stop their backstabbing bosses from destroying their careers and continuing with their criminal operations. It is hard to get into more detail about the plot because it really is very convoluted and ultimately inconsequential. The story also just gets in the way of what could have been much better if it didn’t take itself so seriously for about half of the film.
Drama was instilled into the film’s pacing fairly competently, with just enough fun moments for the film to coast off as 2 Guns kept trying to make me care about Trench’s plight. There is no emotional resonance that comes from this movie, and every time depth was added to a character, it felt tonally inconsistent with other parts of the film. That is the biggest problem, and the story is a huge contributing factor to that. 2 Guns suffers from being way too ridiculous to have moments of serious crime drama. As I previously noted, the movie thinks it can hide the serious plot twists behind the coattails of a gag where Wahlberg is eating fried chicken and complaining that gangsters are shooting defenseless chickens. Then the film lays 20 minutes of exposition on the viewer as if anyone is moving on after the movie graphically displays the heads of chickens being blown to smithereens. The tone is undermined constantly throughout, with 2 Guns ultimately feeling like two different movies trapped in the shell of one confused film.
To add to the confusion, Bill Paxton plays a CIA agent who also has his hand in the drug dealings of Papi Greco (aka Edward James Olmos). The confusing part is not that he is a CIA agent, but that he plays his part in a cowboy outfit with a southern drawl, completely chewing the scenery. Moments of tension become alleviated by Paxton’s off-colored remarks and seemingly chaotic demeanor. And Olmos plays a ruthless drug lord, but that gets undermined by stabs at him which Wahlberg’s character makes almost every time the two meet. This leads to the dialogue which may very well be the best part of 2 Guns. Every line that Stigman says, is delivered with just the right amount of charisma and dumbfound that Wahlberg has perfected over the years. His charm and charisma carries the lack of chemistry between him and Washington, as Denzel continues to play Denzel, who hardly plays off the energy of his co-star. Instead, Washington delivers the pensive, hard-shelled DEA agent that he has also perfected over the years. The two play their roles well, but it merely adds to the didactic nature of 2 Guns, with each character feeling like they could be in completely different movies from the other.
When all is said and done, the unforgiving amount of plot twists and quality time spent on building the character of Robert Trench still doesn’t make 2 Guns a bad movie. In fact, it is one of the few movies this summer where I have left the theatre enthralled. It may not be able to balance humor and drama like other police dramas of its kind, but it still manages to be exciting by simply having a quirky attitude. Mark Wahlberg and Bill Paxton stand out as the two stars who make the movie more enjoyable than it really should have been, tethering along a cast of serious actors who get to enjoy themselves a little more than usual. If only the narrative didn’t keep trying to force itself back into the spree of chicken-killings and urinating that kept trying to stop 2 Guns from being the mediocre flop I expected it to become.