Thursday, August 1, 2013

'2 Guns:' watchable but empty

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg have violent fun as reluctant allies.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are the headliners in 2 Guns, a thriller about two reluctant allies who find themselves at odds with Mexican drug lords, the CIA, the DEA and just about any other individual or agency the screenplay decides to throw at them.

Warming to their buddy movie chores, Washington and Wahlberg more than hold their own, but the overly convoluted 2 Guns wallows in the dirt of governmental and criminal corruption without having much to say about either.

For all its attempts at winning the summer movie grit-stakes, 2 Guns stands as a lightweight drama punctuated by heavy gunfire, bursts of sadistic violence and familiar action elements such as car-crushing collisions and fiery explosions. The movie might have been better had it paid more attention to its title: Two guns would have been plenty.

As is often the case with this kind of thriller, we have to look to the supporting cast for additional color. Although he's playing a character who defies plausibility, Bill Paxton registers as a brutal CIA agent with a sadistic streak, a southern accent and a cowboy look. Edward James Olmos plays a drug kingpin who greets almost any situation with a world-weary attitude. He's like a drug-dealing grandpa who occasionally orders up a few murders.

Paula Patton is mostly wasted as a DEA agent who provides an opportunity for a sex scene.

Although, 2 Guns seldom proves boring, it's ultimately an inconsequential helping of action that comes equipped with car chases and gun battles that seem to function as safety devices, elements that feel as if they've been included to make the story palatable for summer audiences for whom seriousness is about as welcome as a case of West Nile Virus.

Director Baltasar Kormákur, who directed Wahlberg in 2012's Contraband, has has made a pseudo-adult movie in which scenes of considerable brutality have momentary shock value, but don't really add up to much of anything.

Watching Washington work is never difficult and Wahlberg certainly keeps pace, but 2 Guns feels awfully scattered. The movie tries to touch so many bases, it almost forgets what game it's trying to play.

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