Thursday, August 8, 2013

2 Guns - Theatrical Review

Release Date: August 2, 2013

'2 Guns' gets more mileage out if its two stars than it probably deserves.

Review Vital Stats:  
Theater: AMC 16 Tyler Galleria
Time: 10:00 am January 26, 2013    
Projector Type: Digital 2D   
Film Rating: R   
Film Runtime: 1 hr 40 min 
Studio: Universal Pictures

Loves: Denzel Washingtong 
Likes: Mark Wahlberg 
Neutral: Forgettable crime/action/comdies 
Hates: That Denzel continues to waste his talents on such insignificant roles    
If you liked this: then definitely check out the far superior film, The Way of the Gun

DEA agent Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and Naval Intelligence officer Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) are partners in crime who are unaware that each other is an undercover officer. After getting in deep with the Mexican drug cartel, pissing off some corrupt CIA agents and being branded as dirty cops, the two men must join forces to take down those who turned on them and hopefully make it out with their lives.

There is a time and place for films like director Baltasar Kormakur's new action/thriller/comedy 2 Guns. Timing is the key to its success, both financially and critically. Audiences and critics alike are much more forgiving when it comes to a film of this sort, a film that coasts on the celebrity of its two stars and the fact that we are exiting a summer movie season packed full of spectacle and more times than not, very little brains. That's not to say this is a smarter movie, it just hides its flaws better than most which results in a fairly entertaining film that thankfully never outstays its welcome.

Denzel Washington has quickly made a career out of playing in these harmless and tirelessly insignificant mild-of-the-road action pictures. They are never outright bad, just very lazy and easily forgettable, which just seems like a waste for an actor as talented as he is. Like a reliable friend who is fun to hang out with but never amounts to anything more than a hangover and only flashes of a good time, his recent filmography doesn't really do much beyond provide a solid afternoon's amount of entertainment, which is exactly what 2 Guns is all about.

Mark Wahlberg on the other hand has had a much more varied career (quality-wise) proving that he is game for any film that gives him a big enough paycheck. Sure, he has had his fair share of good films, but this is exactly the type of fluff the actor usually attaches himself to and excels at. The real surprise here though isn't that these two actors are in the same run-of-the-mill action flick together, the real surprise is just how well these two guys, who have completely different acting styles, click and use their combined natural charisma to save what would otherwise be just another action movie you would catch late on cable one night.

Double & triple crosses, hidden agendas, trusted friendships turned bitter enemies and a whole slew of other cliche action/thriller tropes make up the bulk of what is offered up here. Any semblance of an actual story is non-existent, we never know how and why either Trench or Stigman got themselves in this mess beyond just doing their jobs and honestly it wouldn't matter even if we did have that information. They apparently have no lives outside their undercover identities or agency contacts which makes both come off as rather single note as a result which makes it difficult to really care about either of them.

That isn't really a problem though because it's clear as day that the filmmakers and its stars alike knew what type of movie they were making and decided to say to hell with story, character development and any form of realism and just have some fun making a little action flick. The banter between Washington and Wahlberg is quick and witty, watching them constantly try to one up the other proves to be endlessly entertaining and the constant obstacles thrown their way present enough diversity and interesting situations that you sort of don't mind that there rarely seems to be any forward momentum to the plot. So, mission accomplished.

The movie is also pretty light on action overall, but moves at a brisk enough pace and keeps piling on twist after twist after twist in its very convoluted plot to help distract you from that fact. By the time you have seen Washington and Wahlberg shoot or hit each other a few times or have seen the fifth or sixth interrogation scene or witness as all interested parties partake in a stereotypical final shootout, any idea that you would actually care about what is going down or which characters are good or bad quickly dissipates and turns into a need for everything to just get resolved already.

Just about the only real negative distraction, which can likely be attributed with the aforementioned fun factor, is the number of inconsistent tonal shifts that occur throughout. One moment it is a deadly serious crime flick with people getting their kneecaps shot off and the next it has a light-hearted interrogation with the two principal actors being tortured while spouting out zinger after zinger. It's not really a negative, but these changes can lead to some confusion as to whether or not you should be laughing at someones demise or if you should be cringing.

2 Guns was released at the perfect time. With so little competition and two bankable stars, it was almost guaranteed to be at the very least a minor success, even if the film itself is a bit lacking in the why-should-i-care category. If you are looking for a movie to help burn up a couple of summer hours in the afternoon while escaping into a nice air conditioned environment, you could do a lot worse than 2 Guns.




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