"2 Guns" (2013)- Movie Review

Directed by Baltasar Kormakur
Written by Blake Masters (based off graphic novels by Steve Grant)
Starring Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, and Paula Patton

‘Messy Storytelling’

Too many characters, subplots, and painfully flat jokes collide in a film that could have done much better without them: “2 Guns”. Like every Summer blockbuster, it’s main goal is to provide harmless fun. And it does. Plenty of action set-pieces, as well as famous actors disguise it as entertaining pop-corn entertainment. However, there’s something in the air that this action-packed film is refusing to use. Almost refraining to be dived into is a brain. This bloated, absolutely ridiculous movie puts emphasis on the word ‘dumb’- it’s a no-brainer inside out.

How nonsensical can a motion picture possibly get? Nowadays, it seems like anything can happen in an industry like Hollywood. The action genre, in particular, has proved to be the ‘go-to-area’ for silly movies. Nearly every one of it’s products have been involved in an on-going trend of dumb movies. This year we were gifted with “Red 2”, “The Lone Ranger”, “Gangster Squad”…a never-ending list of films doomed for destruction at first sight. Baltasar Kormakur’s “2 Guns” is no different. A one-trick pony that immensely relies on it’s lead actors, the entertainer is at best a rental. It offers nothing but countless explosions, poorly crafted characters and extremely messy storytelling. When one goes to the movies, they usually don’t expect much from such a goofy film. Who could blame them? But there is a way to inject smartness and creativity into these movies. Perhaps, as proved earlier in the year by “Iron Man 3”, a twist could to the trick. Or a dangerous, threatening villain like the one seen in “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. “2 Guns” has none of that, and can’t quite find a suitable replacement to make itself stand out in a highly competent Summer for films.

This isn’t surprising, though, especially when the movie’s plot doesn’t make any sense at all. Wait a minute…does it even have one? As far as the story is concerned, what’s happening on screen is a mere mish-mash compilation of hardcore violence and a few humorous moments. No attention is paid to actual plot development, and as a result “2 Guns” doesn’t really feel like a film. Instead of presenting an interesting easy-to-follow story, it decides to go big in scope with a highly confusing and frustratingly convoluted narrative. Jumping from character to character, scene-to-scene, this action-caterer feels like a heavily edited, chopped up version of an everyday TV show.

And not a very interesting one. But hey, what could go wrong when you have two famous/likable actors in the lead? Sadly, a lot…Just ask Denzel Washington, who stars in the central role as a DEA Agent. Along with Mark Wahlberg, he has the fate of the movie in his hands. He also, as a matter of coincidence, has threatening trouble after him in the movie itself. Washington’s Bobby Trench as well as Wahlberg’s Stig Stigman are undercover officers who find themselves on the run from dangerous drug cartels. After a bank heist that seemingly went off well, the two men are forced to flee when they find out that they were set up. Having utterly different personalities, they unwillingly have to work together in order to figure out who wants them killed.

It is then that we are swept into an unrealistic world featuring crazed Mexican drug-lords, corrupt police-offers, extremely over-the-top violence and loads of one-liners…

Due to Baltasar Kormakur’s blatant, straightforward decision to choose style over substance, not all of it works. In fact, any potential the idea had in the first place is mostly shredded into pieces. Vaguely familiar, we’ve seen it done before: the slow-motion action set-pieces, lousy jokes and bro-mance story rings like the recycled versions of a Michael Bay movie. Kormakur certainly knows how to entertain through these components, but it’s entertainment that lacks originality, effort and most importantly, talent. With “2 Guns”, the filmmaker totally forgets about what a movie needs– instead of what it can be. Relying on the acting of the two lead performers appears to be a last-resort way to solve problems.

Rewardingly, though, both Washington and Wahlberg are up to the challenge of carrying the film. Even in it’s weakest, dullest moments these stars light up the screen with electric chemistry and lively screen presence. Plain cool and stylish, it’s almost never that you come across such a magical pairing of actors- it seems like these performers, in particular, have known each other for years. Although Wahlberg’s quick-witted, rat-a-tat dialogue is a tad similar to previous roles he’s played (e.g. The Other Guys and Departed), it’s hard to resist the spot-on comedic timing he shares with Washington.

But when these actors aren’t on screen, the results are a completely different story. The supporting cast isn’t able to live up to the standard set by it’s charismatic leads. Bill Paxton’s villain is hardly a threat: cartoonish, goofy and too obsessed with Russian Roulette to be taken seriously. Paula Patton plays the main love interest in a manner so safe that she comes across as absolutely forgettable. And even James Marsden, who normally fashions limited screen time, doesn’t surprise here with a tiny, insignificant role.

Dialogue is dreary as well. Apart from a few memorable comic relief moments, such as a hilarious Les Miserables reference, the writing is infused with tediously unfunny humor. The kind of humor that’s shamefully childish, immature and sometimes even painful to digest. As if the writing job was given to a mere kid, the majority of the film’s jokes revolve around purely disgusting private-part value. Worsening the situation is a subtle yet offensive racist remark that’s totally out-of-place. Did we really need it in an already idiotic movie?

With sufficient pacing, Baltasar Kormakur holds the audience’s attention before ending his action-caterer in the most ridiculous manner possible. It’s a cliche-driven, clunky conclusion that’s about as dumb, idiotic and stupid as movies get. In a nutshell, it also sums up what “2 Guns” offers: glorious gold for action-junkies, while passable entertainment for others. Whether you’re in the first group or the latter, it would probably be best to switch off your brain before you watch this.

2/5 stars

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