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2 Guns' hits the target - Action movie runs on star power

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2 Guns' hits the target 2 Guns' hits the target

Even in a summer landscape dotted with superhero franchises, big-budget sequels and formulaic effects-laden action movies, Hollywood has left room for the movie stars. It's always nice to see a movie in the mix that doesn't feel the need to rely on anything except its own old-school cool.

Denzel Washington is a movie star. He's one of the most recognizable film actors on the planet, at ease whether he's onscreen in critically acclaimed awards bait or big box office popcorn movies. No matter the project, Denzel elevates it and makes it his own not a bad definition of 'movie star.' Mark Wahlberg isn't quite a movie star, but he's a lot closer than you might think. He doesn't have the range of someone like Denzel, but he's found a way to use what limited range he does have extremely effectively.

Someone very smart has put these two men together in '2 Guns.'

Directed by Baltasar Kormakur ('Contraband') from a script adapted by TV writer Blake Masters from a series of graphic novels, '2 Guns' is the kind of tight, jokey film that allows you to forgive its flaws because it has two stars with very real chemistry taking the ball and running with it.

It's the story of Bobby (Washington) and Stig (Wahlberg), a pair of mid-level criminals looking to do some serious business with a drug cartel leader named Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos, 'Filly Brown'). However, it turns out that Bobby and Stig each have their own agenda kept secret from the other.

It turns out that Bobby is an undercover DEA agent looking to take down Papi, with the help of partner (and former lover) Deb (Paula Patton, 'Disconnect'). Stig, on the other hand, is a Naval Intelligence operative who is also looking to take down Papi on the orders of Quince (James Marsden, 'Bachelorette'), his superior officer. Meanwhile, each man believes that the other is a lowlife who, while likeable, is ultimately expendable.

Things change in a hurry when Bobby and Stig knock over a bank in an effort to get their hands on what they believe is Greco's drug profits. But when they discover not the $3 million they expected but rather $43 million, they realize that something is amiss. It's not all Greco's money, you see. It's the CIA's.

And they would like it back.

Enter a CIA agent known simply as Earl (Bill Paxton, TV's 'Hatfields & McCoys'), a man who will stop at nothing to get his money back. Bobby and Stig are soon on the run, unable to trust anyone not even one another. 

Make no mistake there are plot holes in '2 Guns' that you can drive a truck through. But the dialogue runs free and easy, allowing both of its leads plenty of room. There's an unmistakable cool that permeates Washington's entire performance. He's so smooth that even when he's in situations fraught with peril, you never worry because he never seems to worry. He's the kind of guy who wears fedoras and says 'That is correct' instead of 'Yes.' And it works. 

Meanwhile, Wahlberg continues to hone the not-as-meatheaded-as-you-think meathead that he has been playing to great effect for some years now. No matter where the character falls on the moral spectrum at a given moment, you always believe in Stig because Wahlberg is just so damned earnest.

The two of them together are an absolute delight. The chemistry is dynamite and the comedic timing and interplay between them is remarkably engaging. It makes you want to see them together again in something with just a bit more behind it. The supporting performances are mostly decent, with a few standouts; nobody fleshes out a caricature like Olmos, while there's something fascinating about watching Bill Paxton unapologetically gnaw on the scenery.

That said, '2 Guns' is a lot of fun. Sure, there's plenty of implausibility and more than a few unresolved questions. There are parts of the film that don't really make a ton of sense. It has moments that feel formulaic and it occasionally gets graphically violent. And it's still fun. Washington and Wahlberg make it fun. It wouldn't be a stretch to call it a kind of postmodern buddy cop comedy; it's not about 'How?' and 'Why?' as much as 'Who?' the right stars at the right time.

'2 Guns' isn't quite a bulls-eye, but it doesn't miss by much. 

[3.5 out of 5]

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 21:24

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