Review: 2 Guns
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film as deliciously irresponsible as 2 Guns, a crime caper with more unnecessary violence than necessary, and boy howdy, is that a fun contradiction to put into words.
Movies often take place in a fictional world where getting shot in the arm is a temporary inconvenience, worthy of only a halfhearted grudge against the shooter, and sometimes movies take place in a world where pain is very real and death is very sad. 2 Guns fuses those two worlds into a strange plane where violence has genuine consequences but somehow manages to be goofy as hell. Normally I’d say that kind of mixed message is thoroughly irresponsible, but 2 Guns is such an entertaining little romp that I’m inclined to give it a pass for making light of torture and yet simultaneously claiming that death itself is a genuine tragedy.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star as Robert “Bobby” Trench and Marcus “Stig” Stigman. They’re hardened criminals who decide to steal from a Mexican drug cartel boss named Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) after he refuses to pay them the cocaine promised for their latest job, and because Greco beheaded one of their best friends in the organization. Bobby and Stig bite off more than they can chew, however, when the bank heist yields millions of dollars more than they originally planned, setting in motion a string of double crosses that keep the bullets flying and bromance ablaze.
That would be enough for most crime comedies, and indeed it’s enough for huge chunks of 2 Guns, but Baltasar Kormákur’s ultraviolent crime comedy has two more twists to its credit: 1) Bobby is an undercover cop, and 2) so is Stig. That’s one hell of a coincidence, but 2 Guns is just broad enough to get away with it and Washington and Wahlberg are having so much fun with their antisocial antihero roles that we almost don’t care who the hell they are so long as they keep bitching at each other.
2 Guns gets pretty far up its own ass in twists and turns, and some of them are damned predictable. Unfortunately the gimmick that Bobby and Stig are both narcs does little more than prolong their antagonism well into the second act, long after we needed it. One would think that 2 Guns could milk this concept for unexpected character revelations, in which both Bobby and Stig discover that their partner’s criminal persona was just a front for a different type of person altogether, changing their working relationship for the better, the worse, or at least the unpredictable, but 2 Guns never thinks to capitalize on all the dramatic possibilities. It’s too busy getting Bobby and Stig into the car chase equivalent of a good-natured brawl and forcing Edward James Olmos to pee on his own hands for no real reason whatsoever. Those are selling points, I grant you, but they’re hardly inherent to the logline of 2 Guns.
2 Guns amounts to little and feels too long at 109 minutes, but getting through it is enjoyable enough thanks to a charismatic cast, energetic direction and a bizarre tone that sympathizes with chickens and then shoots their heads off ten seconds later. That extemporaneous attitude improves even the most trite sequences that 2 Guns has to offer, invigorating clichéd situations like pumping the bad guy for information with amusing little details like a garage light that keeps turning itself off mid-scene because it works on a motion sensor. If only the predictably “unpredictable” storyline was as clever as all of the incidental minutiae, 2 Guns might have been more than an amusing distraction.
It’s been said that audiences only want the same story told in a slightly different way. If that’s true, then 2 Guns is probably slightly different enough to be worth watching at some point. It’s an occasionally distinctive, always sadistic spree of a movie that could have been so much more, but in the end makes do with a delirious, albeit disposable, sort of less.