Running Tme: 109 mins
Reviewer: David Gillespie -HCF Official Artist
Do you remember a time when ‘buddy’ action movies used to be exciting, original and fun? Well I don’t, hence my reluctance to watch many of them at the cinema if I can help it. Films like 48 Hours (1982) and Lethal Weapon (1987) opened the floodgates for a plethora of ultra-violent, action thrillers with a wise cracking duo. Generally the success of the films would weigh heavily on the chemistry and comical timing between the two leads and the strength of the script. 2 Guns certainly relies on the latter and for the first quarter of the film everything works out to perfection.
The story opens with two presumed partners in crime, Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and Michael ‘The Stig’ Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) preparing a bank heist at a neighbouring diner. What Bobby does not know is that Stigman is a Naval Intelligence Officer that has been instructed by his superior officer, Quince (James Marsden) to grab the money for military affairs. The flip side of the coin is that Mike does not realise that his opposite number is a DEA Officer with the intention of seizing drug money from infamous drug cartel, Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) and landing him in it. The robbery takes place and the two men realise that they have captured far more money than had been anticipated. The men realise that the money that they have seized does not belong to organised crime but the CIA. A brutal and unhinged agent (Bill Paxton) is willing to go to any lengths to get the money back as is Stigman’s team and Greco’s sadistic death squad. Trench turns to an old flame and work colleague (Paula Patton) for help but it becomes clear that the only person able to help him get out of the situation alive is his uneasy alliance with Stigman. With the odds stacked against them the duo team up with a plan to play all sides against each other in a ‘winner takes all’ standoff.
2 Guns is a lazy attempt at re-igniting the action movie with quality actors thrown into the mix to make the project seem more important and clever than it actually is. If your script is dull and your action set-pieces have been done a dozen times before then even the most undemanding action fan is going to be bored before the half way point. All the genre clichés are there also. Wahlberg’s character growls about his pistol popping skills, ‘I never miss’ and all the villains conveniently turn up for the big shoot-out to wrap the film up. It reminded of a movie that I watched last year that I unfairly rated as a disappointment. Martin McDonagh’s sent up this type of film to perfection in his sporadically brilliant comedy thriller, Seven Psychopaths.
Washington and Wahlberg are solid enough in their roles but it isn’t as if their acting talents are ever stretched in any way. Bill Paxton and James Marsden ham it up in their turns as the villains while the love interest played by Paula Patton is really only present to look good and show off her ‘lucky charms’ to the grateful male contingent.
The only positive aspect of the film is that the opening 15 to 20 minutes suggest we may be about to witness something of real worth. Perhaps this is what makes the rest of the debacle so disappointing? The opening sequence and banter between the two leads is a hoot as is the subsequent heist that goes completely without incident.
My advice is to avoid 2 Guns at the cinema and dig out your old Lethal Weapon box-set and watch one of those instead or if you want to watch a ‘buddy actioner’ with a spark of originality then seek out Christopher McQuarrie’s Way of the Gun.