Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg
What ever happen to the good ol’ buddy action flick? Have modern audiences just gotten to serious for simple humorous and exciting spectacle? The Lethal Weapon franchise, at least the first two of them anyway, was a major highlight of my cinematic youth. The chemistry between Danny Glover and Mel Gibson offered drama and humor and the suspense and action offered up the thrills. Do today’s audiences just not appreciate this sort of filmmaking? It would be easy to say that there just haven’t been any GOOD films from this sub-genre in theaters lately but 2 Guns proves that this assumption just doesn’t hold water.
2 Guns stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as two criminals working together to rob a bank, at least that’s what the film would lead you to believe in its opening moments. It’s no secret that both characters are working for opposing government agencies that aren’t in communication with each other. This fact was made apparent in the trailers so that is definitely not a spoiler. They each believe the other one is a true criminal and are willing to sacrifice the other for a much larger success. Things only change when they learn the truth about each other and when they discover that their agencies have not only disavowed them but in one case have decided to terminate them as loose ends. So, the only way they can solve the mystery, and survive, is to work together.
2 Guns is old school action film through and through. Sure there are some green screen fx and some CGI enhancements but the fight scenes are real stuff either with the actors or with stunt people and these guys aren’t super heroes so they aren’t afraid to shoot a gun either. The two actors appear to just be having a great time eating these characters up and their chemistry is fantastic. Denzel plays the seasoned law enforce while Wahlberg plays and odd mix of highly trained military cop and kind of a dumb guy. Wahlberg’s character is well meaning but he doesn’t think things through which often leads to big action and some surprising laughs. Edward James Olmos also delivers a highly entertaining performance as a Mexican drug lord. He’s scary when necessary and again amusing at times too. Lastly Bill Paxton plays an extremely weird and ominous role in the film. His investment in the proceedings isn’t fully revealed to late in the story. Paula Patton plays a bit of a thanless role but she does it well enough.
2 Guns is far from perfect. The first act which sets up the story is a bit on the clunky side and there’s a plot device involving Patton’s character that may not make a lot of sense at first. 2 Guns is like many 80’s buddy action films: it’s a flawed story but the experience is highly entertaining still. Ultimately broken down to the simplest elements it’s a chase film with some back stabbary. The story should have been stripped clean of the unnecessary crust and left to shine based on the likability and chemistry of the two leads. The story is based on a graphic novel from Boom! Studios that might have been a little less convoluted because the story had room to spread out over many pages. Director Baltasar Kormákur is comfortable in this type of film having previously directed Contraband, another modestly budgeted action film starring Mark Wahlberg. That film was significantly less humorous than this one but many of the action tropes play across both films. Fans of good action and especially fans of 80’s buddy cop flicks should definitely check this one out. I’d love to see these two actors in more projects together.
The 1080p presentation here is good but not great to be frank. Throughout most of the film there’s plenty of detail and very little artifacting. There are tiems however that the combination of overcranked contrast and filtering make them image feel wrong and overblown. There are other instances still where edges get abruptly soft which can be distracting when it happens. The film is a lower budget affair but it features two major stars so it deserved a bit more attention I the transfer department than it was given.
The DTS HD audio stands in stark comparison to the video transfer because this presentation is pretty great. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout the film, dynamic range is solid between action scenes and quieter moments, and the entire sound space is utilized and one point or another. There’s nothing innovative about the sound presentation but it does exactly what it needs to as the audio side of an action movie. Goods are delivered.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The single blu-ray is presented in a slim amaray case with artwork that actually features the stars of the film in an action scene rather than just two floating heads (I hate the floating heads artwork, total weak sauce).
The first bonus feature comes in the form of an audio commentary from the director and producer of the film. Both creators seem excited about the movie and they share a lot throughout the track but there really aren’t many surprises or stellar nuggets to speak of.
Undercover and Into Action is a brief very marketing like featurette with sound bites from just about everyone involved with the film. There’s really not much here on its own. Exclusively on the blu-ray though this feature is the first in a series of brief featurettes that total around 30 minutes and cover the action elements, the cast and crew, and the fx. It’s not in depth or lengthy but all of these little featurettes together offer a good picture of how the film came together. In many ways the film seems like a Mark Wahlberg production since the film stars him, features the director he previously worked with on Contraband, and many of the crew are his close friends. It appears that Denzel came on board because of Wahlberg as well.
Sure 2 Guns is messy in the story department but the characters are great and even the bad guys are likable in their own ways and the action is old school fun. These sorts of action films just aren’t made that often anymore so revel in this one while you can, it’s just plain fun.