Title: 2 Guns
Sure Looks Like More Than Two Firearms In That Trailer: As both characters favor a single weapon, two is the most both are collectively carrying when engaged with the enemy, which is perhaps a commentary on their puissant skill at ... oh, the hell with it.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two-and-a-half Christopher Walkens from The Deer Hunter out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Two undercover law enforcement wiseasses try to figure out who set them up, also shoot stuff.
Tagline: None that I could find.
Better Tagline: "They're back; they're bad; he's black; he's bland."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Robbing a bank loaded with suspected cartel money seemed like a good idea at the time, but when the heist yields a decidedly larger haul than expected, DEA agent Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and Navy intelligence officer Michael "Stig" Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) find themselves on the run from both of their respective organizations, a pissed off drug dealer, and an even bigger threat than they'd imagined.
See It/Rent It/Skip It: Rent it? Redbox, maybe? Or it might be the kind of movie you fall asleep to after a six pack. I realize this isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.
"Critical" Analysis: I couldn't tell you why, exactly, but I didn't hate 2 Guns.
Christ knows I should have. The "double double cross" angle yields an end result you'll see coming from afar like Lancelot in Monty Pyton and the Holy Grail (and that's even if you haven't watched the trailer, which gives a big part of the ending away). The action criss-crosses the Texas-Mexico border throughout the film's second half, but apart from one reasonably authentic, coyote-assisted fording of the Rio Grande, nobody seems to have any problem with border security (whatever you do, don't tell Lou Dobbs). Finally, there's Wahlberg. My issues with the former Funky Bunch front man are well-documented, but suffice to say many of his previous movies have left me cold.
And yet, in spite of sounding like a rehash of just about every terrible '80s action movie cliché imaginable, 2 Guns was almost ... entertaining.
Unsurprisingly, nearly all the credit for that assessment goes to Washington. I may not have enjoyed Flight all that much, but you still had to give Washington his props. He's an actor of such talent that he can elevate even mediocre material into something that's fun to watch. In Flight, he was weighed down by an overly sentimental story and obvious character arc. In 2 Guns, he gets to play it more loosely, and it helps.
And so does the presence of a topless Paula Patton.
Is it his counterpart's acting "skillz" that make Wahlberg tolerable? I honestly don't know. I can't tell if the guy is actually growing on me, or if my resistance to his lack of emotive ability has been beaten down -- as if by so many Micky Ward uppercuts -- by multiple recent movie releases (five in the last 18 months).
Even the movie's ludicrous third act, which plays like screenwriter Blake Masters wrote it while the bartender was giving his "You don't have to go home but you can't stay here" speech, seems acceptable. This is a movie in which one main character *shoots the other* as admonishment for lying to him. There's also a credit for "Chicken Assistant." Truly, a rich tapestry.
On a slightly more serious note, how depressing is it that the prospect of [MINOR SPOILER ALERT] U.S. government sleazery is so easily palatable to modern movie audiences? Decades ago, we might have had some trepidation about implicating America's fine intelligence services in illegal activities. Now? It's a matter of course. And it speaks to our collective low opinion of such agencies that the film's ruthless drug dealer (Edward James Olmos, in a rare villainous turn) comes across favorably by comparison.
So let's recap: two successful actors mostly coasting through yet another paycheck role? Check. Familiar plot about betrayal and government cover-ups? Check. Ridiculously simplistic ending, even for the subject matter? Check. By rights, I should be flaying this movie alive, but it's August, and this summer movie season has been particularly exhausting. To use another boxing reference, I'm throwing in the towel.
2 Guns is in theaters today. Remember, your government is here to help you.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.