The short and sweet version is as follows: 2 Guns delivers everything that I’d expect from light and entertaining action-movie fare, and even does some of it decently well. It does not, however, exceed expectations, and even dips below them at a point or two. This comes despite the presence of fairly good actors and a potentially highly interesting premise, hence the title of my review. Maybe seeing Denzel Washington across from Mark Wahlberg got me too excited?
I’m not saying that 2 Guns is bad. It might even be above average for an action-movie (though where the mean lies is difficult for me to determine, given the prevalence of outliers and misleading clumps in the data). But I don’t think that it will stick around in our collective memory for any considerable period of time, except perhaps as inspiration for something that could have been done a bit better.
Keep reading, I’m not done yet.
Now then, about being excited to see Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg…
It turns out that they’re a good fit for each other in terms of banter and rapport. That was one place in which the movie did not disappoint. Watching them act friendly and lie to each other, each trying to convince the other that they are totally legit criminals, is quite entertaining. Their subsequent frustrations, disagreements, and eventual amity are fun too, though I’m not sure that it ever quite hits the same high point as it does near the beginning of the movie.
Also, I just have to say, turning a game of vehicular chicken into a lateral collision and subsequent fist fight is perhaps the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen in an otherwise moderately “realistic” movie. You’ll know it when you see it. It really doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, and doesn’t add much to the movie. It would have made more sense for the two of them to get out of their cars and just start punching each other, especially since that’s more or less what ends up happening anyway.
As if the quality of our protagonists wasn’t enough, Bill Paxton makes a surprise appearance as a truly terrifying asshole. He’s ready, able, and willing to do egregious harm to people for little to no reason, and makes a good villain. In fact, I can’t see a reason why this movie shouldn’t have been simply stellar.
Yet even though the story has a lot of promise, I felt like it deflated part way through. I’m hard pressed to identify exactly what felt like it went wrong, but I’ll see what I can single out.
Careful, this will be full of *SPOILERS*
Ok, so we have two undercover agents working together, each more or less trying to incriminate the other. This is a good start, right? They settle on a bank robbery, with one expecting to be caught immediately and the other expecting to deliver the cash to his superiors (this is where things start getting a little weird, and it’s a point which is made very clearly by a character in the film later on, played by the same man who was Earl in Tremors no less). But things go too well, and they get too much money without knowing whom it belongs to. It turns out that they’ve stolen from the CIA’s secret stash, and now they’re being hunted by several different groups, all looking for the cash. This is still action movie gravy, even allowing for the bits of weirdness. Then there’s the roughly simultaneous reveal of them both being undercover agents, another excellent moment.
But somehow, over the course of fleeing from people trying to kill them, trying to recover the money from where they left it, and trying to pay back the CIA rather than have to live the rest of their lives on the lamb, it felt like they lost a lot of the interesting tension that they had built up previously. There were good scenes in throughout, interspersed with less memorable pieces, but they couldn’t quite carry the weight of the movie.
Oh, yeah, and about that whole dipping below expectations thing? There’s one female character on screen for more than one scene, as best as I can tell, and she ends up damseled and killed. It fits with the movie’s circle of belief, but it’s disappointing.
Thus endeth the *SPOILERS*
I definitely had fun watching the movie, and if my friends wanted to watch it I’d be happy to join them. Especially if we could do it with convivial atmosphere and alcohol. But I’d be loathe to pay much to watch it.
If you like Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Bill Paxton, and action movies, you’ll probably like 2 Guns. But don’t expect it to wow you so much as offer you a passing entertainment.