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Film Review: Amoral universe in '2 Guns' and 'Drug War'

Two crime films opening this week have divergent points of view.

August 02, 2013|By Andy Klein
  • "2 Guns" stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in an explosive action film that tracks two operatives from competing bureaus who are forced on the run together. But there is a big problem with their unique alliance: Neither knows that the other is an undercover federal agent.
"2 Guns" stars Denzel Washington and Mark… (Courtesy of Universal…)

In "2 Guns," Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg play a duo of low-level minions for drug lord Papi (Edward James Olmos). Or more accurately they play two guys playing low-level minions. That is, Bobby (Washington) and Stig (Wahlberg) both work for law enforcement: Bobby for the DEA, and Stig for Naval Intelligence. Unfortunately, neither knows about the other's affiliation. It's similar to the hook in "The Departed," but less complicated, largely because they figure this out well within the first act.

Before they know this, however, they set out to rob a small town bank of $3 million of Papi's money, in hopes of catching him in a sting. The robbery goes like clockwork, except for one small thing. The haul turns out to be $41 million, quite a bit more than Papi could have stashed there. Whose money is it? And what are they supposed to do next?

Well, Wahlberg's move is to shoot Bobby (not fatally, of course), which causes a slight rift in their relationship. Now they don't know whether to trust each other or their bosses, since clearly they have been set up by someone. And everyone is after them — various drug cartel factions, both of their agencies, and yet another mystery group, represented by a drawling, laid-back creep (Bill Paxton). The latter is so relaxed that he doesn't bat an eye as he orders his men to torture and/or kill one person after another. It goes without saying that our heroes are among his top targets.

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"2 Guns" was directed by Icelandic actor/director Baltasar Kormakur, who also made last year's Wahlberg vehicle "Contraband," a moderate hit. "2 Guns" is just as effective and includes far more humor, much of which unfortunately veers toward the tone of the later Roger Moore 007 entries. There are a boatload of killings, some of them gruesome, and each has to be given its own frothy wisecrack. Is this practice a tongue-in-cheek put down of the standard "buddy cop" banter? Or simply a by-the-numbers example of a long-exhausted vein of shtick? Your guess is as good as mine.

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