The best thing 2 Guns has going for it is its two leads -- Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. That is why, honestly, the film’s moniker could not be more perfect. The two acting superstars come at you like a double barreled shot of adrenaline and action. And what makes 2 Guns even more fun, is the two never take themselves too seriously and have a riotous ball (and so do we) in the process.
The 2 Guns trailer gets it pretty spot on. The film is, at its core, a story about two undercover agents who are working together -- yet neither one knows the other is legit. Washington and Wahlberg believe that the other is a crook. What is so fascinating about the script by Blake Masters (based on a graphic novel by Steven Grant) is that he doesn’t draw out that bit of information throughout his film. In fact, it is revealed by the end of the first act.
Therefore, Washington and Wahlberg are free to wield distrust, angst, betrayal and a bevy of other emotions that add up to a powder keg of dramatic (and sometimes comedic) power throughout the remaining two thirds of the film.
Baltasar Kormakur could not have been a more perfect choice to helm the production. He previously worked with Wahlberg on Contraband and the Icelandic director clearly has found his Leonardo DiCaprio to his Martin Scorsese. They have a shorthand that is clear throughout, and Washington, as everyone knows, is such a pro that he just jumps right in… but never commandeers the film. The two-time Oscar winner knows this is a buddy thriller and each actor comes to the table ready to do their best.
As told to us in our Baltasar Kormakur exclusive interview, the filmmaker was inspired by 1970s films and also one in particular from 1969: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Kormakur has crafted an action thriller that would make filmmakers of that era proud. He uses the Mexican-Texas border as a backdrop in a way that the locale almost becomes its own character. And there’s a stylized manner to his camera work that not only fits the location, but also the actors' performances and the story itself.
As good as Washington and Wahlberg are together, if anyone “steals” scenes, it’s Bill Paxton. His CIA agent is key to the entire mystery of a small town bank that for some reason our leads discover has over $40 million in a safe deposit box. Paxton is not necessarily our “bad” guy, but he certainly does his best to ruin everyone’s day who gets in his way. It is a performance that is simultaneously pure Paxton, and also something we’ve never seen before from the veteran actor.
Our 2 Guns review finds that there are a few flaws in the picture. Like, Wahlberg’s character is Navy Special Forces and we’re not sure there is a huge Navy presence in rural Texas. Also Paula Patton gives a riveting performance as a colleague/romantic interest of Washington and her part essentially adds up to a glorified wallflower. As chilling as she was in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the actress’ talents are kind of lost in 2 Guns. And the film is just a bit clunky and doesn't quite flow as smoothly as it needs to.
Yet, overall, 2 Guns is a complete blast. From beginning to end the film has you guessing how this story will play out and if, and when, these two leads will put aside their differences and work some good guy magic. When that time comes, you’ll never see it coming.
In the end, and if nothing else, we want 2 Guns to do bonanza business -- solely so we can witness the tandem of Washington and Wahlberg working their wizardry collectively.