Twitter Plot Summary: Wahlberg and Washington are undercover Navy/DEA agents respectively on the run after they steal $43 million from a bank.
Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Key Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos.
Five Point Summary:
1. Bill Paxton with a moustache. Now I’ve seen everything.
2. So that’s the second film this year where Denzel Washington is in bed with a topless lady…
3. Yay, it’s Admiral Adama! Whoop whoop!
4. Stop chewing your gums Denzel, it’s weird.
5. “I never miss.” Who are you, Bullseye from the Daredevil film?
There’s something to be said for going into a film almost completely blind. 2 Guns did not show up on my radar earlier this year when I put together a list of films I wanted to see in 2013, I only decided to watch it on a whim after catching the trailer a few weeks back. After robbing a bank and finding $43 million in cash rather than the $3 million they were expecting, Bobby Trench (Washington) and Michael Stigman (Wahlberg) are undercover agents who are both tasked with infiltrating a drug cartel. Bobby is a DEA agent, whereas Stigman is a navy bod. Soon both are set up and on the run and stuck in the middle of a fight between four different sides – the DEA, the navy, the CIA and drug boss Admiral Adama… sorry – Edward James Olmos. They have to work together to solve the mystery (of where the money is) and to come out the other end alive instead of in a body bag.
It’s essentially an anti-buddy cop movie, with our two guys on the run from everybody. There are big action sequences that are handled credibly, although on the whole they lack the chutzpah of a Die Hard or a Mission Impossible. I get the impression the budget wasn’t really there, but they are serviceable if nothing else. The main thing you’re for though is the interplay between Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. Despite the occasionally fraught situations they find themselves in one or the other always has a quip to hand. I liked the fact there really isn’t a clear definition of “good” and “bad” with each of our groups. You would normally expect the navy, the DEA or even the CIA to be deemed “the good guys”, but literally everybody is drawn in shades of grey, even the shady drug kingpin himself. The only thing that matters, in the same vein as the Fast and Furious franchise, is “family”. Thankfully it’s not mentioned every five smurfing minutes as in those films, so it doesn’t irritate.
More importantly, and I wasn’t aware of this going in, is that it’s a comic book adaptation that doesn’t overtly feel like a comic book adaptation. Other films like A History of Violence, whilst very good, definitely feels like it’s been ripped verbatim from the comic. 2 Guns doesn’t have this problem, or rather it doesn’t suffer from it anywhere near as obviously. Also of note is, early in the film, Bobby and Stig put on some cool masks to rob the bank – one is Frankenstein’s Monster, the other a creepy clown. There’s probably some subtext there about how initially they’re hiding behind a mask and it’s only afterwards the real masks come off, blah blah blah. I say probably, because I’m not sure those involved in the making of the film gave it that much thought. I suppose that’s what film critics are for though…
Bill Paxton has some fun as the slow, drawling CIA agent trying to recover the money, although seeing as the CIA has more money in all sorts of places it’s hard to define his motivations. So the money has been stolen, yet they have a lot more stashed elsewhere – why is he so keen to get it back? I know he has a vested interest in the situation, but even so. He’s a needlessly violent character who will shoot a man just because he has that power, and is perhaps more a villain of the piece than dirty navy agent James Marsden or even Admiral Ada… Edward James Olmos.
The narrative and levels of conflict between characters was good fun, although there’s a few tonal shifts that don’t sit easy – either you’re a dark gritty thriller or you’re a fun action adventure romp, pick one and stick with it. It’s probably not going to be top of many people’s lists in the years ahead, but it’s a fun modern action film that does its job and then gets out of the building. Because, you know, it’s probably going to blow up.
Favourite scene: Infiltrating the Navy base. Not so much “infiltrating” as “bursting in.”
Quote: “You’re my people and we have a code. You fight for the guy that’s fighting next to you.”
Silly Moment: Admiral Adama locked in a boot and having a bit of sick.