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Article by Teddy Durgin

"2 Guns" Misfires

I love a good turn-your-brain-off action movie as much as the next guy. I cut my teeth on flicks like "Commando," "Cobra" and "American Ninja." Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus weren't guys on the "No-fly" list. They were Schlock Movie Producer Gods of the 1980s. I was similarly weaned on buddy movies, from such classics as "48 Hours" and "Lethal Weapon" to such cheesefests as "Tango & Cash" and "Rush Hour." So, when I heard that "2 Guns" was going to be a turn-your-brain-off buddy action movie ... I was stoked. Unfortunately, this is one of those flicks that tries to have it both ways. It is tremendously dumb in spots. It's the kind of flick where the two leads - undercover DEA agent Denzel Washington and undercover Naval Intelligence Officer Mark Wahlberg - bicker over how much to leave as a tip for a cute waitress ... literally seconds before they torch her diner. Seriously, they trigger the smoke alarm; make sure everyone is out of the eatery; leave a wad of cash on the table; and then ignite a big, Hollywood, slo-mo fireball that engulfs the entire eatery. Later in the film, Wahlberg's character needs to get on a Naval base to try and convince an Admiral that he's a wrongly accused fugitive. Now, there are a dozen different ways he can do this like ... oh, say ... wait until the man is back at his officer's quarters or out at a local restaurant getting a bite. But what does Lieutenant Good Vibrations do? He drives up to the base's entrance in a truck ... AND FLOORS IT THROUGH THE FRONT GATE! This is soon followed by Denzel detonating the base's main headquarters even though there is no way he can be sure at the time that dozens of innocent officers, cadets and civilian workers got out on time before the blast. But, hey, the building blowing up real good from multiple angles looks awfully cool in the trailer and commercials. At the same time, "2 Guns" tries to be one of those twisty, turny capers where the audience has to sift through double crosses and triple crosses. We have to pay attention to all of the players, ascertain their motives, guess their next moves ... in short, we have to THINK! And when a dumb movie compels you to think, it's just never a good thing. Because then you start thinking about it all, and it all falls apart. What is good about "2 Guns" is what absolutely had to be good - the chemistry between Washington and Wahlberg. Neither one knows that the other is undercover and trying to bring down Edward James Olmos' Manny "Papi" Grieco. Washington's Bobby Trench figures Wahlberg's Marcus Stigman is your classic dim-witted patsy, while Stigman views Bobby as nothing more than a mid-level hood he can ride right into the belly of the beast. The two stars bicker in mostly endearing fashion, and I liked that the two weren't such stark contrasts. Rather, they are both egotistical, somewhat shut-off men on the same mission from different angles. It's too bad director Baltasar Kormakur couldn't have made either a good dumb movie or a thrilling, intelligent one starring these two. Also, the violence in this is at times too wincingly hard for the light, jokey vibe that the filmmaker is going for otherwise. Everything from chickens getting their heads blown off to a veterinarian getting tortured to Wahlberg and Washington hanging upside down and beaten with a baseball bat are mixed in with broadly funny bits like the two leads wrestling on the ground like 12-year-olds. Final Take? Unless you are big fans of either Denzel or Marky Mark, wait for pay-per-view or Redbox to take aim at this one.

"2 Guns" is rated R.

 

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