As the lackluster summer of 2013 limps to a close, and studios decide to release abominations like Smurfs 2 as fillers until Oscar season kicks off, movies like 2 Guns fill a perfect niche in a last ditch effort to see who can grab the most cash. Based on a graphic novel of the same name, 2 Guns proves to be yet another buddy cop movie in a summer already dominated by buddy cop movies, including R.I.P.D and The Heat, as recent examples. That being said, 2 Guns will have it’s work cut out for it as it attempts to stand out amid a year of homogenous action-comedies.
Coming to us from Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur, the film generally adheres to standard conventions of the genre without too much in the way of world-shattering innovation. More interestingly, however, is the screenplay, written by Blake Masters. Masters, whose resumé consists of television series like Brotherhood and Law and Order: LA, seems to have created a screenplay that would be better suited to an episodic format with lots of intrigue and plot twists that the audience could get invested in over time, rather than enjoy within the constraints of a single film. This proves to be one of the film’s major flaws, but more on that in a moment.
Starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg playing essentially extensions of themselves, 2 Guns is able to bring some really impressive chemistry to the table. The leads play off of each other in the best of ways, with Washington covering the aging cynic who’s ‘getting to old for this shit’, and Wahlberg owning his role as the earnest, lovable rouge who’s in just a little too deep. I’m a big fan of both of these actors, and frankly it was a joy to see Mark Wahlberg do some actual acting for once in his life. Ever since Boogie Nights, I’ve tried to keep an eye out for him because he’s proved over and over again that he’s capable of some thoroughly impressive work.
My experience with 2 Guns went as follows: I was in love with this movie for the first 30 or 40 minutes, but my excitement quickly turned to puzzlement and then to resigned apathy as the plot became incoherently complex and more and more obnoxious antagonists were introduced. Without exaggeration, I think there were four main antagonists throughout the plot of this movie. As I mentioned before, I think the multiple antagonists would have worked better in a more episodic format as multiple ongoing story lines could have been explored without the audience becoming hopelessly confused.
2 Guns is an excellent example of a film that failed due to over ambition. With a more narrow focus and a greater emphasis on a single, well-developed antagonist, as well as a plot that didn’t senselessly yank the viewer around every few minutes, I am confident that the film would have been much more successful. I get the feeling that, for whatever reason, the film wan’t sure that it could stand on the ability of its leads alone (it totally could), and instead thought that a huge, expansive story would make up for any perceived shortcomings. In reality, however, it’s precisely that over blown story that proves to be its downfall.
Depending on your taste, Washington and Wahlberg’s talent and charisma may be able to carry the movie for you, and despite all of it’s flaws, I found the experience to be a satisfying one. While you may find the plot a little disappointing as things proceed, there’s enough wisecracks, explosions, and car chases to keep you occupied throughout. Now I suppose all that’s left is to wait for the inevitable 2 Guns 2 in summer 2014.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5