Pulpy B-movie kicks off swell but gets too sadistic, too convoluted and too overcooked. By design, 2 Guns is a badass vehicle for Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg but wait – the story is bum. Too many twists and turns, too many different parties shooting at each other, too many scenes of nose-breaking or gunshots to the leg as a substitute for clever dialogue. Baltasar Kormakur (“Contraband”) is the nihilist director, and I am now a registered non-fan of him. But hey, his bank robbery scene is almost entertaining… except that he cuts it in a flashback fragmented way that robs it of any rhythm.
It’s the throwaway scenes of Bobby (Washington) and Stig (Wahlberg) ordering pancakes and eggs before they set a diner on fire, or a shooting gallery at a chicken farm, which are among the several cool Tarantino-esque homages. The big B-movie twist is a homage to the hard-boiled genre: Bobby isn’t a drug-dealer but an undercover DEA agent, and Stig isn’t an opportunist thief but an undercover Navy Intelligence agent for a crooked outfit. But you knew that already once you saw the trailer.
These two learn post-robbery that the other is undercover. They just stole $43 million dollars that is now sought by characters played as varied by Bill Paxton, Edward James Olmos and James Marsden. This has the makings of a genius noir. But by the time our two wanted studs break into a Navy base to bust some heads and set part of it on fire, I found myself shaking my head at how ridiculously over the top it was. Marsden’s change of behavior is especially baffling and inconsistent by that point.
Adding loveliness is Paula Patton who is smooth and tough-talking in one scene, nude and sexy the next as she straddles Bobby (the movie cuts just short of bedroom sizzle). Her character Deb’s involvement is a welcome change of pace, and yet she is cut short of being necessary to the whole movie. Maybe what I’m trying to say is that I wanted to see more of her. But it makes me think: There are some real a**hole characters in this movie, but the biggest a**hole is Kormakur when it all comes down to how he chops his own movie. He makes sure that whenever something intriguing is about to happen, he poops on it.
109 Minutes. Rated R.
THRILLER / ACTION FANS / FRIDAY NIGHT CROWDS