Sunday, 25 April 2021

Movie Review: 2 Guns (2013)

A buddy movie with plenty of action and a streak of humour, 2 Guns offers oodles of star charisma but a nonsensical plot involving a drug cartel, bank heist, and numerous far-fetched hidden agendas.

Bobby Beans (Denzel Washington) and Michael "Stig" Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) have partnered to infiltrate and profit from the Mexican drug cartel of Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos). Maintaining a thorny friendship, they keep their identities hidden from each other and both pretend to be easy-going underworld types, but Beans is actually with the DEA and Stig is with Navy Intelligence.

Beans is romantically involved with the DEA's Agent Deb Rees (Paula Patton), and arranges for Stig to be arrested after they rob a small bank holding $3 million in cartel money. But to everyone's surprise the bank heist yields a mammoth $43 million in cash. Beans and Stig start to suspect each other, and then have to evade killers from the cartel as well as rogue Navy assassins and an angry CIA dark ops unit.

An adaptation of a comic book series by Steven Grant, 2 Guns is a stylish exercise in wild action riding a ridiculous story. The film demands compliant brain disengagement and simple vibe enjoyment. Director Baltasar Korm├íkur tries for a while to maintain control of the narrative, but then the logic gaps expand into yawning canyons, brain-twisting double crosses multiply, and various groups of barely defined shady operatives show up with big guns intent on killing other groups of less defined shady operatives with bigger guns. 

As a good complement to the uncontrolled energy, the film's visuals pop off the screen. The vivid colour palette draws inspiration from the Mexican and southern US locales, the incessant sunshine and stark desert offering bright yellows and browns as backdrops for the frequent fire fights, car chases and macho posturing. Korm├íkur keeps the action moving at a breakneck pace, a good strategy to avoid coherence probes, and wraps up the adventure in 109 minutes.

Stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are in fine form and immediately click as a pair, zipping through banter and biting quips with pleasing buoyancy. Washington is more serious and circumspect and often provides a cool anchor amidst the mayhem. Wahlberg is restlessly jovial, his best plans consisting of antagonism mixed with straight-ahead bulldozing. Bill Paxton enjoys himself as the CIA's Earl, but the rest of the cast members are given little to work with and probably never quite knew which side they were on in any given scene.

2 Guns contains a lot more than just the two guns, but it's the two stars who carry the day.



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