The common defense with a film like 2 Guns, a buddy-buddy blow ‘em up, is that you have to let your brain go slack and enjoy the show. I have no problem with that, unless the plot is constructed with the same kind of effort reserved for grocery lists. Built on the sweat of a dozen better films, director Baltasar Kormakur turns the knob to 14 and dares us to hate his latest effort.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star, respectively, as Bobby Trench and Michael Stigman. Trench is a DEA agent and Stigman is a naval intelligence officer. The two men rob a small town bank thinking that this is bringing them one step closer to busting a drug lord played by Edward James Olmos. Instead, they enter into a world of trouble.
Trench and Stigman think the other is the bad guy, a ruse that is lifted when the two face off post getaway. Once the misunderstandings are ironed out and proper introductions are made, the reluctant pair discover they’ve actually stolen and then lost $41 million that belongs to the CIA. They need to get the money
2 Guns is a cartoon. Tranch and Stigman survive bullets, car wrecks, and repeated blows to the gut with a metal rod. It’s a joyless and derivative one however. Hollywood has excelled at high-octane chatty movies like 2 Guns for a long time. Kormakur proceeds as if no one has ever seen two bickering partners grow to trust each other or discover the deceit goes all the way to the top. Has Shane Black taught us nothing?
The plot in 2 Guns exists to get us to the next bro-worthy explosion, so, its twists and turns are merely empty gestures – a way to distract us from en endlessly stupid movie that consists of gunfights, classic cars getting destroyed, and Paula Patton in her underwear. There are so many unanswered questions that this review threatens to become a philosophical treatise. How did Stigman and Trench first meet? How could the CIA just dump millions in cash into a bank? How could Trench trust somebody who ignored his tip regarding the hold-up? The list goes on.
You hope that star power will save the day. It does not. Wahlberg is about 10 years too old to play the young hotshot, and Washington has portrayed this kind of bitter badass so many times that here it’s like watching a clock tick: efficient, predictable, and boring. The most memorable aspect of the characters is their clothing, whether it’s Patton’s lack thereof, Washington’s snazzy fedoras from the Spike Lee Collection, or Olmos’ suits, which make him look like the owner of a particularly prosperous New Orleans bordello.
“2 Guns” is so concerned with size and flash and noise – the Mexican standoff involves a helicopter, for crying out loud – that I’m not sure if Kormákur views the audience with contempt or is so consumed with appearance that nothing else matters. Either mindset leads to the same intolerable big budget fare with the same unfortunate message: style, no matter how grating, triumphs over substance.
*Disclaimer: There were moments I found myself entertained by this film.