Paycheck movie … but good enough to earn your money anyways
Denzel Washington has seemingly found the ability to turn on his acting talents at will as of late. Most times he’s just good enough to look like a genuine movie star while being light years ahead of everyone around him. Safe House was the perfect example of this; Ryan Reynolds didn’t look like he belonged anywhere near a co-starring role with Washington for most of that film’s running time. When he’s pushed with a role that demands it, like Flight, he’s still capable of the sort of jaw-dropping performance that has personified the peaks of his career.
2 Guns doesn’t demand that … it just demands that he do just enough to keep up with Mark Wahlberg.
Trench (Washington) is a DEA agent trying to bust a high level narcotics trafficker (Edward James Olmos). Stigman (Wahlberg) is a special forces operative looking to use Trench as a fall guy for a heist. Neither guy is aware of the other’s actual job, viewing the other as a fall guy for a bank robbery. Their robbery is a little too successful; instead of the $3 million in drug money they thought they were stealing it turns out to be $43 million of CIA slush fund money. Both Stigman and Trench are abandoned by their colleagues and have to team up to save themselves.
The whole situation lures out a CIA super spook (Bill Paxton), who wants the money back to help fund CIA ops south of the Mexico/U.S border.
For everyone involved this is a simple paycheck movie; it relies more on Wahlberg to play a little dumber than normal and Washington to rely on his charisma. This is a typical buddy action film that relies on chemistry between its leads more than anything else; it’s a good thing because there isn’t much to this film that we haven’t seen before.
This is every buddy cop/buddy action film cliché meshed with the sort of south of the border charm Robert Rodriguez infused into the Mariachi trilogy and nothing more. There’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and better, but 2 Guns makes us forget all of this in the moment because Washington and Wahlberg are a great pair together. Neither is really working significantly hard but they’re not quite embarrassing themselves, either. This is perfectly acceptable genre performances from both, nothing more, and this film doesn’t demand or warrant anything beyond it.
Bill Paxton, oddly enough, chews enough scenery for everyone involved. It’s fun to see him be the bad guy and he revels in it; it’s never dull to see an actor be the villain in a film and treat it like an opportunity to be gloriously shameful in it. It’s a generic, throwaway role as written but Paxton makes it memorable by being so over the top that it grounds the film in a quirky reality that somehow feels like it makes sense.
This is a film where nearly everyone fits in neatly to unchallenging genre roles. Paula Patton plays Trench’s love interest, and appears nearly naked in the film as well, but doesn’t have to do much besides that. James Marsden is suitably slimy as Stigman’s double-crossing boss and Edward James Olmos has a thankless role as a minor villain.
It’s a testament to how well Wahlberg and Washington work together that the film is enjoyable despite it not doing anything new or unique. If anything 2 Guns allows us to see how much better a great buddy action film could be with the two A-list actors starring in it.
Director: Baltasar Kormakur Writer: Blake Masters based off the comic book “2 Guns” by Steven Grant Notable Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.