Judge Michael Nazarewycz acknowledges that 2 is the only even prime number of guns.
You fight for the guy that's fighting next to you.
Biracial buddy pictures of the action/comedy variety are in their fifth decade. Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder kicked things off in the 1970s with Silver Streak. The 1980s gave us the likes of Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte (48 Hrs.), as well as Mel Gibson and Danny Glover (the Lethal Weapon films). In the 1990s, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker (the Rush Hour films) tried not to drop the mantle, and Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones carried the torch from the 1990s and into the new millennium with the Men In Black series. One could even argue that this year's White House Down, starring Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum, fits the mold (I would be one to argue that, for the record).
With so much history and (mostly) great pairs to be compared to, the biracial duo/action/comedy 2 Guns has a lot to measure up to.
Facts of the Case
There's $3M in drug money sitting in a safe-deposit box in a tiny little standalone bank just aching to be robbed. Michael "Stig" Stigman (Mark Wahlberg, Boogie Nights) and Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington, Flight) think they're the guys to pull off the job.
Rewind one week and Bobby and Stig are in Mexico, finalizing a deal with cartel boss Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica). The deal doesn't go exactly as planned, and before they know it, they are stopped at the U.S./Mexico border and detained for questioning. It's here we learn that Bobby is not who he seems to be. Both men are released.
Back in the present, the bank heist goes off with only one little hitch. Instead of $3M, the take is $43M, and the men, knowing it isn't all Papi Greco's money, want to know exactly whose it is. As they worked towards finding answers, we learn that Stig is also not who he seems to be, nor is his boss Quince (James Marsden, X-Men), nor is Bobby's girlfriend Deb (Paula Patton, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol), nor is the mysterious Earl (Bill Paxton, Titanic).
Sadly, 2 Guns does not come close to measuring up. Is there a biracial duo? Absolutely. Action? Yes. Comedy? Sure, let's go with that. And yet…
Let's start with the comedy. Of the duos I mentioned above, all but one have an actual comedic actor as part of the duo (Gibson substitutes funny with crazy). This is critical. Giving an actor funny lines does not a comedy make, no matter how funny the lines might be. While this film gets an occasional laugh, there are far more misses than hits, and this dearth of humor is highlighted by the fact that neither Washington nor Wahlberg are comedic actors by trade.
With a shaky comedic leg, how does the action stack up? It isn't bad, it simply isn't memorable. It's your garden-variety shoot-the-guns, chase-the-cars, torture-the-captured fare. That doesn't mean it's tame, but there is a difference between "violent" and "exciting," and the action in this is not the latter.
Hey, at least there is that biracial duo, and one with quite the pedigree. Wahlberg is a hot Hollywood commodity, while Washington has more Oscar nominations (six) and wins (two) than any of the actors listed above (Gibson has two wins, but on only two noms). Yet they don't work, either. Their chemistry is fine, but their characters are flat. Wahlberg plays a likable lug, which is about as vanilla as you can get—be loved or be hated, don't be the guy who everyone doesn't mind. Washington, on the other hand, plays the I-think-I'm-cool-but-I'm-really-aloof-but-I-don't-know-it role. With the exception of his first scene with Olmos, Washington is entirely unchallenged by this role and it shows.
2 Guns never fires on all cylinders, no matter how high-octane it tries to be, and to top it off, in lieu of a plot (compelling or otherwise), twists and double-crosses are hurled at us, almost as distractions. This is no exaggeration: there are six major characters in this film, and all six are hiding something that is later revealed. Even in the context of an action movie, that is wildly implausible.
However, if you're willing to overlook such things for the chance to be impressed by the 2 Guns (Blu-ray)'s 2.40:1/1080p transfer and its DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, you've come to the right place. There are varied locales in this film, offering vastly different visual textures and lighting requirements, and the imagery is sharp across the board. This is particularly noticeable and impressive in nighttime scenes. The sound transitions are smooth as well, given the style of film this is. The audio nicely and clearly handles shifts from quiet conversations to action-y scenes and back.
The extras package is not bad. In addition to DVD and digital copies of the film, there is a commentary track featuring director Baltasar Kormakur (Contraband) and producer Adam Siegel (Drive). The 30-minute making-of, titled Click, Click, Bang Bang: The Making of 2 Guns, is actually four shorter vignettes that total 30 minutes. I didn't take attendance, but all major cast members appear to be present. Finally, there are eight deleted or extended scenes that run a total of 11 minutes. Some are interesting in that they clearly didn't go through full post-production work. There are outlines around Wahlberg's body that give away the fact there is green screen trickery behind him. It's a neat reminder that even when a scene is done shooting, there is so much left to be done.
Despite their evolution over the last forty years (increased action, black/white vs. black/Asian, sci-fi themes, unlikely duos), biracial buddy-action/comedy films are relatively unchanged in terms of structure. Because being formulaic is practically a default, a film like this needs something special to make it stand out, whether that's bigger laughs, badder action, or better stars. Unfortunately, 2 Guns goes down on three strikes.
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