Not that there are too many teaching points from director Baltasar Kormakur’s latest film “2 Guns” anyway, but if the Icelandic filmmaker’s newest action flick were to have some sort of overarching take away message it would probably be this: When there are two guns, there are probably two guys holding them. When there are two guys holding two guns, there’s most likely a ton of other people trying to kill them. Moral of the story, don’t ever get in the way of two guys holding two guns. Even if Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington are the two firearm toting protagonists, I’d stay clear of this bloody shootout.
For Denzel Washington aficionados and Mark Wahlberg super-fans — the two types of moviegoers this film is catered to — it doesn’t take long for Blake Masters’ script to start living up to its title. Robert ‘Bobby’ Trench (Washington) and Michael ‘Stig’ Stigman (Wahlberg) are expert thieves and prove it by blowing up a local diner and breaking into a bank almost immediately after the opening credits.
Bobby and Stig, however, aren’t typical criminals. Actually, they aren’t criminals at all. They are undercover agents. The only problem, neither knows about the other’s double identity.
Before Bobby has time to say “never rob a bank across the street from a diner that says they have the best donuts in the county,” the DEA, Navy, CIA, and Drug Cartel all descend on the double-crossed undercover agents; each expecting answers. With nowhere else to go and over $40 million in stolen cash, Bobby and Stig are forced to leave their alter-ego pasts behind and work together in order to get to the bottom of their sting mission gone wrong.
For a movie that claims to be about deadly devices that come in pairs, “2 Guns” is unmistakably Washington’s movie. He is the first billed actor in the credits and carries most of the film’s dramatic weight. He is also given an overly attractive love interest (Paula Patton), an interesting backstory, and more screen time than his co-star Wahlberg. If Kormakur’s flick were a hard-boiled police drama ala “Training Day” perhaps, this dynamic would probably work. “2 Guns”, however, isn’t anything like “Training Day.” It’s more comedy than drama, and in the realm of action comedies, it’s hard to beat Mark Wahlberg. Kormakur’s film suffers by featuring the one-dimensional Bobby too much and the dynamic Stig too little.
Confounding the plot structure even more is the overabundance of antagonists. Initially, a corrupt CIA officer named Earl (Bill Paxton) is the only villain attempting to murder Bobby and Stig. Paxton, with his goofy southern drawl, is great in the role, and offers a hilarious reprieve from Bobby and Stig’s central storyline. Sadly, by the time the third act rolls around, the two double-crossed gents somehow manage to attract the attention of at least six other bad guys. With so many antagonists shooting, cursing, and blowing stuff up, an ultimate villain is never designated. Everyone seems to be bad, which isn’t very good for the audience.
“2 Guns’” muddled storyline isn’t very promising for Kormakur either. A gun cannot fire without a human operating it. Unfortunately, Kormakur forgets all of the human elements, and crafts a love letter to firearms instead.
By David Morris