The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"2 GUNS"

2 Guns

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg both have pretty good track records when it comes to making action movies. They bring credibility to the tough-as-nails heroes they play, while still maintaining a sense of humanity that some action stars simply can't generate. That's part of what makes 2 Guns so disappointing. While it brings the actors together, the film doesn't measure up to most of the similar projects they've done individually.

Washington plays undercover DEA agent Bobby Trench, and Wahlberg is naval intelligence officer Michael “Stig” Stigman. As we meet them, they are working together to rob a bank, each unaware of the other's true occupation. They are actually investigating one another in connection with some stolen mob money, and the bank heist is part of that. Soon enough, it becomes clear that they are both being set up by a drug kingpin (Edward James Olmos), a corrupt Navy official (James Marsden), and a crooked CIA agent (Bill Paxton). Now realizing that they're fighting on the same side, Trench and Stig collaborate to outsmart everyone else.

That's the short version of the story. I could tell you the long version but...well, come to think of it, I couldn't tell you the long version. 2 Guns has one of the most muddled, incoherent plots of the year. We just barely understand why Trench and Stig are robbing the bank when the film begins a never-ending series of seemingly arbitrary crosses, double-crosses, triple-crosses, double-triple-crosses, and triple-double-crosses. Crosses of every variety are accounted for. After a while, following the plot becomes an exercise in futility. I lost track of what all the supporting characters – including a fellow DEA agent/love interest for Trench, played by Paula Patton – were trying to do. Whatever is going on, it involves over forty million dollars. 2 Guns wants to keep you from guessing what will happen next, but it does this by confusing you rather than through clever plotting. It's really not too much to ask that a movie make its story followable; some of the most complexly structured films ever made (e.g. The Usual Suspects, Inception, etc.) have still maintained coherence. This one doesn't.

Seeing Washington and Wahlberg share a screen should theoretically mitigate some of that, yet 2 Guns doesn't get that right either. Neither actor has a well-defined character to play. We really don't know much about them, except that they have a penchant for pseudo-comic bickering, as is required in films of this type. Bickering is used here as a substitute for actual dialogue, though, meaning that it all adds up to a whole lot of nothing. The actors are fine, they just aren't given much of substance to work with. That's a shame because we know they do substance very well.

Director Baltasar Kormakur (Contraband) stages a few decent action scenes, although investment in them is minimized by the occasional lack of understanding as to why they're taking place. There's also a fabulously wicked supporting performance from Bill Paxton, who chews the scenery in all the right ways. He's equal parts funny and evil. Paxton is an MVP to any movie he's in, but that's especially the case here. I wish the whole thing had been about him, to be honest. Beyond these things, it's difficult to find much that recommends the film.

2 Guns left me feeling worn out. Between the convoluted plot and a general nasty streak when it comes to violence, it's a bit of an oppressive viewing experience. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg will undoubtedly go on to make much better action pictures. This is but a blip on their career radars, and it's a blip best forgotten.

( out of four)

2 Guns is rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 49 minutes.

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