Movie Review: ‘2 Guns’

2 Guns Movie Review
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star in '2 Guns' - Photo © Universal Pictures

Reviewed by Ian Forbes

“I’ve got two guns. One for each of you.” I’d hope many of you spot that quote from Tombstone. It’s one of Val Kilmer’s most fun lines, in a career of fun lines (the best being a description of a reoccurring dream in Real Genius). Why am I reminiscing about Val Kilmer when he has nothing to do with the new Denzel Washington / Marky Mark buddy picture? It’s as simple as the title being 2 Guns and my love of being glib.

The movie sees Washington and Wahlberg playing undercover agents for the DEA and US Navy Intelligence (respectively), thinking they’re partnered up with just another criminal and hoping to take down a Mexican drug kingpin. But when they unknowingly tap into a C.I.A. money stash, the end result is the pair being on the run from all three agencies. Sounds simple enough, right? It would be if it wasn’t painfully obvious the source material needs to be adapted better.

Steven Grant’s 2 Guns graphic novel, from what I can tell, seems to be brought over into the cinematic world more or less as it was (aside from changing the race of Denzel’s character). That may work for a comic book but when I’m watching a movie, I like to have the twists and double crosses make a modicum of sense. I’m all for being surprised because a plot element was cleverly written but here, items come out of left field simply by happening; there’s no logical way any of it could be foreseen and it’s like there are whole scenes missing that would bridge points A and B.

For their part, Washington and Wahlberg share a playful chemistry. The best scenes in the movie see the two verbally sparring and trying to establish dominance over one another. To that end, some fun actors are thrown into the mix: Edward James Olmos, Bill Paxton, and James Marsden. Sadly, they’re underutilized and fall into the same trap the plot does, being used haphazardly and without any logical sense.

Then there’s the female lead, Paula Patton. Yes, she’s beautiful. Yes, she’s capable of doing action films (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol). But as much as I don’t want to complain about this, why is she topless here? While my eyes (and elsewhere) are happy enough, it’s completely gratuitous and simply further degraded the reason for her to be in the film. Her character, like everyone not played by the two male leads, has extremely little character development; and the attempts to do so tend to do little more than slow down the pacing.

Getting down to it, there are some fun moments in 2 Guns but director Baltasar Kormákur (whose last movie with Wahlberg, Contraband, was appropriately released in the cinematic wasteland of January) doesn’t seem to be the person who could best translate the material from page to screen and either the screenwriter needed to adapt the graphic novel more significantly or the producers needed to find a different director. This is a stock movie that doesn’t seem to understand that fact and the resultant leaps in plot progression and logic turn what could be a fun buddy picture into a ho-hum head scratcher.


2 Guns opens in theaters on August 2, 2013 and is rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity.

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