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Review: 2 Guns – Washington, Wahlberg, weapons and wisecracks

Posted by on August 2, 2013 – 12:01 am

2 GunsWill there ever be too many crime-drama comedies with twisty plots, excessive explosions and amusing amounts of machismo? Probably, but not when they showcase talent like Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, who play perfectly off of each other in the entertaining new film, 2 Guns.

Based on the Boom! Studios’ comic-book series that was written by Steven Grant and illustrated by Mateus Santolouco, 2 Guns tells the story of two undercover law enforcers, DEA Agent Robert ‘Bobby’ Trench (Washington) and NCIS Officer Michael ‘Stig’ Stigman (Wahlberg), who are inadvertently working with each other, yet neither knowing that the other is actually an undercover operative.

The two agents are tricked into robbing a bank that they think contains drug cartel money, but after the heist, without giving too much away, they end up caught between the crosshairs of Mexican mobsters, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), the DEA, local law enforcement and the Central Intelligence Agency – all at the same time.

Once their true identities are revealed to each other, the two heroes reluctantly work together, along with Trench’s seductive DEA girlfriend, Deb (Paula Patton), to try and recover the money they stole, which has ended up in the hands of the US Navy. Meanwhile they are dodging bullets from every angle, including from a malevolent CIA operative played by Bill Paxton (Aliens). Note that there are way more than “2 Guns” in this violent and rather lame-named film.

2 GunsThe action all takes place on the southern border of Texas, including the Corpus Christi Naval Station, which for me was the weakest point of the plot in that I’m not sure why the Navy would be involved in Mexican drug cartel investigations – maybe it happens, but it just seemed odd to me. Nevertheless, as a former squid it was fun to see the swabbies represented in an action flick – and Wahlberg makes a pretty badass sailor.

Even though the plot of 2 Guns has some unique values, it is basically a pretty worn formula that you don’t want to spend too much time thinking about. The film is elevated by the performances of Washington and Wahlberg who are wonderful together as hardened men who hate each other, but ultimately learn to work together and respect one another. The actors share some great witty dialogue and action sequences and I’d love to see them paired up again in a sequel (or any other film for that matter.)

I have not read the 2 Guns comics by Steven Grant, but if you have then you are already aware that the character of Trench (Washington) has been changed from a white man (in the comics) to a black man (in the movie.) Not that it matters, because for my money Denzel is perfectly cast, but the change is worth mentioning. Additionally, Stigman is called “Steadman” in the comics and apparently they changed the moniker so he could have cool nickname like “Stig” in the movie.

2 Guns2 Guns was helmed by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur, who previously worked with Wahlberg on the film “Contraband,” and his cast in this movie also includes Fred Ward (Tremors) as a no-good Navy Admiral, James Marsden (X-Men) as a lower ranking Naval Officer and Stigman’s boss, and Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica) as the cartel’s drug lord. The film was written for the screen by Blake Masters, whose previous work mostly includes television programming like Law & Order.

Violence, language and nudity give 2 Guns an “R” rating, which is refreshing in the current wasteland of watered-down theater fare like World War Z, Fast & Furious 6 and even The Wolverine. Despite its somewhat convoluted plot, Washington & Wahlberg’s performances and unlikely chemistry make this film one of the most entertaining so far this summer. Grade: 7/10

Photos © 2013 Universal Pictures