Undercover DEA agent Robert 'Bobby' Trench (Denzel Washington) takes advantage of gunman Michael Stigman's (Mark Wahlberg) idea to rob a bank - so he can bust him along with a mob boss. However, it proves too successful with much more money seized than anticipated with Trench's forces not stopping the getaway. Complicating things still more, Stigman turns out to be a Naval Intelligence agent who shoots Trench and takes the money. The interservice debacle lands Trench and Stigman in a bloody web of corrupt clandestine rivalries as they are hunted, blackmailed and isolated for the money on both sides of the law.
Review by Louise Keller:
The repartee and edgy relationship between Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg is the highlight of this enjoyable action thriller in which loyalties are questioned as bullets ricochet, buildings explode and the whys and wherefores of a $43.125 million stash are canvassed. Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur (Contraband) plants his foot on the pedal and as a result, the pace is snappy with never a lull in the proceedings. It's quite a yarn and Blake Masters' screenplay (based on the Boom! Studios series of graphic novels by Steven Grant and illustrator Mateus Santolouco) is a happy mix of chaos, action and humour when Mexican drug lords, undercover federal operatives, the military and government agents collide in spectacular fashion at hyper speed.
In a brief prologue set in a diner opposite a bank, where the best donuts are on offer, the dynamic between Bobby (Washington) and Stig (Wahlberg) is firmly established. Theirs is a joke-y relationship, filled with jives and asides as they plan to rob the bank. As the action does a backward flip of a week, we learn first hand about their mutually duplicitous relationship in pursuit of bringing down the drug cartel. The fact that the trailer and all promotional material reveals they are in fact both good guys in the guise of bad guys means that I am revealing nothing that you do not already know. As it happens it does not matter, because the pleasures are found in the exchanges and execution as the two men discover the other's real identity before having to make a decision about what to do next.
Washington and Wahlberg are great together - bullish and brash with a twinkle in the eye as they improvise and fly by the seat of their pants, even when things have supposedly been carefully planned. Washington is a wonderful surprise - from the fake gold teeth adornments to his breezy jousting, while Wahlberg is compelling as the winking, likeable naval intelligence officer who never misses his shot. I laughed in the scene in which Bobby and Stig argue about which car to steal as they peruse a parking lot. But Kormakur is careful not to let the joke-y tone impact on the serious nature of the action.
Paul Patton (Washington's girl in Déjà vu) is terrific here as Washington's federal agent squeeze; pillow-talk is relevant to the plot. James Marsden is effective, cast against type and Bill Paxton as the callous Earl is good value as is Edward James Olmos as Papi, the Mexican drug lord who keeps a prize breeding bull provides some colourful moments.
Some of the plot tends to fly by the way as key questions are asked: Whose money is it? Where is it? Who works for whom and who is playing whom? But that does not matter either. One thing is for sure - everyone is after the money. The desert settings are spectacular and the final showdown involving a red Chevy convertible is tops. Sheer escapist entertainment.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In the original 2Guns comics, Trench is a white dude like Stigman, who is called Steadman and both are quite young - but these aren't the details that matter. What matters in the adaptation is how well Iceland's Baltasar Kormákur warms to the task of delivering a fun filled action thriller, with writer Blake Masters freely commandeering the Tarantino signature of quirky banal dialogue in the midst of action.
Teaming Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlerg brings to mind the early successes of the Lethal Weapon franchise (late 80s, early 90s) with Danny Glover and Mel Gibson - in tone as well as in action elements. It's the chemistry between Washington and Wahlberg that is key to the film's grip, but all the supporting cast play crucial roles, too, notably Paula Patton as the dangerous Deb, Bill Paxton as the nasty Earl, James Marsden as the equally nasty Naval Officer Quince, Edward James Olmos as Mexican drug lord Papi (also nasty).
The BOOM! comics were BOOM! Indeed, and this clever and engaging story goes BOOM! quite a lot, given that vast amounts of money, corruption and drugs are the primary ingredients for its Molotov cocktail of a screenplay.
The action takes place in desert and city locations, and includes car chases as well as gunfights - everything the target market wants in escapist cinema. Admittedly, it plays a little long, but the wicked sense of humour and the charisma of the stars - not to mention a bang up resolution - make it worthwhile.
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2 GUNS (MA15+)
CAST: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos, Robert John Burke, Greg Sproles
PRODUCER: Andrew Crosby, George Furla, Norton Herrick, Adam Siegel
DIRECTOR: Baltasar Kormákur
SCRIPT: Blake Masters (graphic novels Boom! by Steven Grant)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Wood
EDITOR: Michael Tronick
MUSIC: Clinton Shorter
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Beth Mickle
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 10, 2013