Movies: "2 Guns" | Arts & Culture

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Movies: "2 Guns"
Movies: "2 Guns"


Actually, there are a lot more than two guns in this slickly-made action movie.  


There are a couple of direct references to the work of the late, great action director Sam Peckinpah (“The Wild Bunch”):  a scene in which a band of Mexican banditos do some target practice on chickens buried in the desert sand (“Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”) and another bandito’s lopped-off head glimpsed in a satchel (“Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”).  But Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur (“Contraband”) amps up the action even more than Peckinpah did.  (The screenplay by Blake Masters is based on the appropriately-named Boom! Studios graphic novel by Steven Grant.)


At the heart of the movie are two likable crooks, Bobby “Beans” Trench (Denzel Washington) and “Stig” Stigman (Mark Wahlberg).  When we first see them, they’re in a Texas diner, arguing over the breakfast menu in a scene reminiscent of the John Travolta-Samuel L. Jackson chatter in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp FIction.”  What neither of them knows is that each is an undercover agent, Bobby for the DEA and Stig for Naval Intelligence.


When the two rob a small bank -- not knowing that each agency has ordered the heist -- they find themselves in possession of 43-million dollars, which is now being sought by their respective commanders, a brutal Mexcian drug lord (Edward James Olmos, always great) and a shadowy and sadistic civilian named Earl (Bill Paxton).  Add to the mix Bobby’s old girlfriend and fellow DEA agent Deb (Paula Patton, of “Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol”) and a Navy Admiral played by the solid character actor Fred Ward (“Miami Blues”) and you have one convoluted caper.


Ever since Eddie Murphy teamed up with Nick Nolte in “48 Hrs.” and Mel Gibson (still appealing then) joined with Danny Glover in “Lethal Weapon,”  Hollywood has given us salt-and-pepper crime comedies, usually with one wild and crazy player working with a stolid by-the-book partner.  “2 Guns” follows that pattern, as Wahlberg’s manic winking and grinning is set off against Washington’s deadpan mien (despite his fake gold teeth).  


Even when the two of them realize they’re on their own against the world, Bobby won’t totally accept the partnership: “We’re working in the same... area code.”


When the action finally leads to the final shootout, we’re reminded once again of Peckinpah: this is the only time in the movie where the action is in slo-mo, and the two survivors walk off under a hacienda gate reminiscent of the close of “The Wild Bunch.”


The excellent cinematography is by Oliver Wood, who shot three of the “Bourne” movies, and was filmed in New Mexico and New Orleans along with sets in Hollywood.  The appropriate music is by Christopher Shorter.  


“2 Guns” is rated R for a lot of violence, some sex and language.  I enjoyed it immensely;  it’s probably the best action movie I’ve seen all year.


I give it a B-Plus.

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