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2 Guns

Paula Patton's character Deb was almost played by Grey's Anatomy's Ellen Pompeo and Marisa Tomei.

We live in a world where all action movies typically have are heroes, the girls they save, an evil villain and explosions. Admittedly, some are enjoyable but very few have captured the essence of what action movies used to be. Instead, training in the great dialogue and moral issues for models on beaches and giant robots (Except you, Pacific Rim. Keep up the great work). That's why it's extremely relieving to see something as refreshing and downright fun as 2 Guns is.

Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and Michael "Stig" Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) are planning to rob a bank. Not just any bank, either. By robbing the Tres Cruces Bank, Bobby and Stig will effectively steal millions of dollars from their business partner, Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos), while framing him for the murders and drug trades he's infamous for. What the two men don't know is that both work for a different reason. Bobby is actually a DEA agent while Stig works for the Navy Seals, both who are trying to take down the notorious Papi Greco. Once Bobby and Stig find out who they are exactly, things take a turn for the worst when they realize whose money they actually stole. On their trail is not only Papi Greco but the deadly Earl (An amazing Bill Paxton), who is gladly taking out any soul that stands between him and his culprits. Bobby and Stig are forced to work together to avoid dying at the hands of the many people who want them dead.

The set up, when described and even what the trailers show off, would make 2 Guns look and sound like a typical action movie that offers nothing rewarding. Perhaps this is a great tool for 2 Guns as the end result is far from that. Imagine a Bad Boys remake with a bit more dirt in it's teeth and that's what Director Baltasar Kormakur has delivered here. His interesting yet at times stale installment last year, Contraband, showed potential and he lives up to that potential here. The action and plot are almost always present in some form or another but the true factor that allows 2 Guns to feel as smooth as it does is the chemistry between Washington and Wahlberg. In a showcase of what Brett Ratner probably wanted his Rush Hour series to sound like, both men have the same amount of charisma and humor to keep viewers interested. While Bobby and Stig have the same level of skills, Stig's mouth is the loose cannon of the group, shouting out confusion to a group of men shooting at indisposed chickens while Stig eats a plate of fried chicken. It's the childlike wonder inside Stig to Bobby's fear of commitment that make them one of the best action duos in recent memory.

Wahlberg and Washington are both fantastic in their roles, as is every other actor on screen here, including Paula Patton as the beautiful DEA Agent Deb and Edward James Olmos as the bull-loving cartel kingpin, Papi Greco. But make no mistake, this movie belongs to Bill Paxton's Earl. With a lethal love for torture and pain, Earl purrs threats in his deep Louisiana accent while explaining his confusion with Russian Roulette. Paxton plays Earl exactly as a character describes him early on: Satan's Son of a bitch. Paxton delivers one of the best "I'm here" phrases given in the history of action movies (Listen for his rendition of Red Rover) and it shows that Paxton never lost his remarkable ability to transform himself and still get little to no credit for it. He is one of Hollywood's best kept secrets and 2 Guns is all the better for including him in on all the fun.

One of the reasons Contraband didn't stick it's landing was the left-field twist towards the end, especially given that Giovanni Ribisi was a despicable villain who chewed every scene he was in. The irony is that it is this formula that keeps Baltasar's 2 Guns on track and keep Bobby and Stig on a path that makes for a great action movie. The plot is a little fast moving, so if you miss even a line of dialogue from Jame Marsden's Quince or Papi Greco, you may not understand what their exact motive is. Of course, the humor and action keep that in check and force you to pay attention to more important matters. What can also be said for Baltasar's direction is that 2 Guns has more guts than most films these days do. Most directors would let you piece together things, being afraid of being too candid by showing certain scenes. Baltasar throws this to the wind as he shows us the things we never thought we'd see. Of course, going further would spoil the surprise, but keep on eye on Walhberg's Stig when he watches chickens being shot at.

Imagine a perfect blend of Bad Boys and Contraband and you'll be extremely close to the end result of 2 Guns. Incredible chemistry, Paxton's delciious performance and a surprise at every corner make 2 Guns not only one of my favorite movies this year but also one of the best action additions in a long time.

Ryan Sterritt
Review by Ryan Sterritt
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