'2 Guns': great cinematography, terrible screenplay

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(digitalBURG) — It’s probably unfair to expect much out of a movie when the director got his degree from a drama school in Iceland (sorry, Baltasar Kormákur). Fortunately for “2 Guns,” the casting agents were willing to sell their souls to sign a list of stars long enough to make a NASA astronomer rethink the meaning of the word “stellar.”
It seems odd that Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington agreed to do a summer buddy cop flick at all. I must admit that I had doubts about their ability to generate any chemistry together, but in “Lethal Weapon” fashion, the mismatched duo managed to pull together in a charming way. They weren’t amazing, but they were good enough to carry the ridiculously asinine plot to the end.
It goes without saying that Washington and Wahlberg executed their bits and banter well. There are some genuine laughs to be had in this movie. Bill Paxton makes you cringe whenever he shows up (in that good, Hannibal Lecter way). Edward James Olmos pulls out the same authoritative swagger he bore in “Battlestar Galactica” to offer a commanding presence as a drug lord.
Unfortunately, the best use of two guns might have been to try and assassinate the screenplay. Shooting bullets into the script might be the only way to add more holes to the plot. You can forgive a movie for being mindless, but “2 Guns” is just stupid. It punches your common sense right in the gut every chance it gets.
It’s fine for an action movie not to have an agenda. We don’t need a movie about how fun it is to shoot bad guys to have some kind of life lesson to impart. But “2 Guns” is literally unbelievably stupid. As in “I do not believe a high-ranking member of the DEA and a naval officer would make this decision, therefore my immersion is ruined due to how terrible this plot has become.” That sort of unbelievable. It’s not a matter of over thinking anything. If you have even a mote of common sense, you will want to vigorously shake Blake Masters for this screenplay until brain damage is either caused or reversed, whichever happens first.
The villains are obvious from the moment we see them, the heroes are clearly the guys from the box art, and the twists are less surprising than seeing another M. Night Shyamalan movie flop. The animal cruelty fails to be comedic in the way that was clearly intended, the nudity was inserted for no reason, and an execution via head shot all detract from the movie in uncomfortable ways.
The film is well-paced. You find yourself having fun, rolling along with the action, sucked in by the banter of the two leads, and then boom, head shot! Follow it up with a close-up of the open-eyed corpse with a bullet hole between its eyes just to make things as awkward as possible. Great job, guys.
Other than a couple stop-frame screensaver moments at the beginning of the film, cinematography is actually very well done. Each set piece is nearly perfect. Unlike most films with trailer-bait set pieces that show us only the best little bits, just about any part of the movie could’ve been pulled for trailer clips. The smooth shooting of the camera crew only makes the actors’ shooting more enjoyable. While the plot is over the top, everything is so polished that the only thing pulling the viewer out of the movie is the plot itself.
Spoilers: The good guys win, the bad guys lose, and the unlikely duo becomes best friends.
The movie is gimmicky and the plot was written with the same amount of forethought possessed by an intern asking Michael Bay if he wants to add another lens flare. Despite this, there are still some funny moments and the action is quite well done. If the chemistry between the two leads had gone beyond “Washington and Wahlberg being themselves in the same vicinity,” the film would’ve seen a big benefit in its comedy half. Sadly, I have been more enthralled by the plot of an episode of “How It’s Made” about ceramic tile production than anything the plot of “2 Guns” had to offer.
“2 Guns” is worth catching on Netflix or cable, but don’t drag any unwilling friends to the theater if you have any desire to speak with them again. “2 Guns” receives a rating of 6.2/10.