Universal Pictures has a great big midsummer hit on their hands with the enormously entertaining "2 Guns." Whoever’s inspired decision it was to pair Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg deserves a promotion. These two hunky gentlemen are clearly having a blast in this movie, and it rubs off on the rest of a pitch-perfect cast as well as on the audience (major clapping at my screening). I haven’t had this much fun at the movies in a long time!
The film is a sort of updated take on the old westerns they used to make in the 1960s, complete with dusty old towns, bank robberies, and bad guys in cowboy hats. Bobby Trench (Washington) and Michael "Stig" Stigman (Wahlberg) seem to be your basic two-bit bank robbers, orchestrating the theft of a desert savings and loan in a place called Tres Cruces. The $3 million booty they had intended to steal turns out to be, in actuality, upwards of $40 million, much to their surprise. How is this possible? Where did all of the extra money come from? Who is hiding this much loot in a small-town savings and loan?
That’s all I will say about the plot, since this is one of those movies where no one is who they initially seem to be, and twists and turns abound. Suffice it to say that Bill Paxton arrives on the scene as a badass bounty hunter type; James Marsden gets in on the action as a corrupt Navy guy; Fred Ward turns up as a Navy superior, and Edward James Olmos scores a nice, juicy gig as a Mexican drug lord.
As much fun as figuring out how the plot all ties together is (it gets a little choppy towards the end, but so what), it is much more fun to watch the cast sink their teeth into their roles. It is rather rare to see Washington in a movie for the sheer fun of it, as we are so accustomed to seeing him in more serious-minded films ("Philadelphia" "Flight"). "2 Guns" will remind you that he can do "cool" with the best of them, and the banter (courtesy of debuting feature screenwriter, Blake Masters) that he and Wahlberg engage in is a hoot. Paula Patton, as an ex-flame of Trench, demonstrates why she is hands-down the sexiest woman working in film right now: That Robin Thicke is one damn lucky boy! It is so good to see movie veterans Fred Ward and Edward James Olmos here as well, with Olmos in a major supporting role.
The movie is stylish without going overboard, making great use of desert locations and a Latin-infused score. Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur stages many exciting action sequences, especially one bravura car chase which doesn’t quite end when the cars stop moving. He keeps the movie moving at a rapid clip without succumbing to the seemingly cut-every-second editing style so pervasive in modern action movies. The audience sees what it needs to see, presented with panache, then the film moves on to its next piece of exposition. This makes for a very tight (and very R-rated) film that takes the audience on a ride and ends exactly where it should. Pure entertainment!