If you disassemble 2 Guns, you have the makings of a good movie — a strong cast, some good action sequences and a plot that should be entertaining. There’s even a hint of brains here (you’re unlikely to find a movie that tackles both illegal immigration and capitalism this summer). Unfortunately, when glued together, nothing quite fits. There are flashes of the kind of fun, over-the-top buddy-cop actioner 2 Guns wants to be, but instead, the end result is a misshapen, needlessly busy film that’s never quite as clever or as amusing as it thinks it is. A lot of the blame should fall on director Baltasar Kormákur, who made the similarly convoluted, but much more straight-faced Contraband last year. He’s taken these disparate parts and turned them into a film that’s — around the edges, at least — sneakily mean-spirited and occasionally downright ugly. This is exactly the type of movie — not simply because of the subject matter — that director Robert Rodriguez would’ve made irreverent and engaging. Instead, it’s a film that feels like the air’s been sucked from it.
The plot is muddy, involving undercover DEA agent Bobby (Denzel Washington) and undercover naval intelligence officer Stig (Mark Wahlberg), who are both — unbeknownst to each other — after the same Mexican druglord (Edward James Olmos). They’re not even aware the other is undercover, which becomes especially pertinent when they’re set-up and tricked into robbing a small-town bank to bring down the cartel, but instead take off with a CIA stash of $43 million. Bobby and Stig — a bit distrustful of each other — set off to find out who double-crossed them, as the plots turns into a tangle of various deceits and gunfights.
Because of this, the film is overly complicated. This is partly because of TV writer Blake Masters’ script and partly because Kormákur doesn’t quite grasp pacing. Plot points are glazed over to the degree they become nonsensical, while the film’s big climax just sort of stumbles through the door at the end. But even before we get to this point, we’ve got trouble. The movie is your basic buddy-cop trope, and even considering that most of the film is a lot of what 2012’s 21 Jump Street just parodied, this concept should be simple enough. Denzel and Wahlberg have easy, tailor-made roles to play, and the script at least fakes witty repartee. Kormákur, unfortunately, just can’t leave well enough alone, instead getting the most out of his R rating. Sometimes this works (the fate of Paula Patton’s character is surprising, since most films don’t go as far as this one), but for the most part, 2 Guns feels just a bit too skeezy. There’s an unfortunately grubby feeling that squats in the background of the movie. A lot of this is due to Bill Paxton as the evil CIA-agent antagonist, whose game attempt at a scenery chewing villain feels too nasty. None of these drawbacks are enough to sink the movie, but squished together, they distract from what Kormákur’s film actually does right. Rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity.
Playing at Carmike 10