DVD Release Date: November 19, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: August 2, 2013
Rating: Rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Genre: Action | Comedy | Crime
Run Time: 109 minutes
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Edward James Olmos, Bill Paxton

Finally! The funny, fast-paced action movie we’ve been waiting for all summer has arrived. It’s not without flaws (note the R rating, for one) but for good old-fashioned, blow-up-bad-guys, buddy movie entertainment, 2 Guns delivers a double-barreled blast of fun.

It’s a modern homage to the classic Western genre. Bobby "I know a guy" Trench (Denzel Washington, Flight) and “Stig" (Mark Wahlberg, Pain & Gain) are working together for Mexican drug kingpin Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos, The Green Hornet). Except they're not: unbeknownst to each other, each man is undercover for a different government agency trying to take down said kingpin... and each other. When their plans go awry, they end up robbing a bank to get Papi’s cash, only to find that the money they’ve stolen belongs to someone much scarier than a drug cartel. As everything and everyone turns against them, these two have only each other. They’ll have to work together to stay alive—assuming they don’t wind up killing each other first.

Pretty much everything in this film works beautifully. Washington and Wahlberg play off each other like the masters they are; one wonders why it took them so long to work together. Their reluctant partnership is reminiscent of the Lethal Weapon series with a little Butch and Sundance thrown in. Bobby's sly, dry humor is the perfect foil for Stig's clumsy, puppy-like charm. Both stars have superb comic timing and the script gives them plenty of opportunities to show it off (you'd best plan to rent this one later, you'll need to rewind multiple times to catch all the lines drowned out by laughter). The pace is fast but never frantic; director Baltasar Kormákur (Contraband) applies both accelerator and brakes to the story at exactly the right times. Even with all the shoot 'em up action and special effects—including some truly lovely explosions—the focus is always on the characters. Their relationship is central to the story, making this an action movie that’s more about people than car chases and fist fights.

And now a few words about the not-so-perfect parts: there is a graphic scene involving cruelty to chickens and I don’t mean eating it fried. Bobby's co-worker Deb (Paula Patton, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol) appears topless in a brief but completely unnecessary display of nudity. There are racist remarks and attitudes; the action takes place on both sides of the Texas/Mexico border so several stereotypes are conveniently at hand. Creative methods of torture are employed to extract information, especially by Papi and slimy CIA agent Earl (Bill Paxton, Haywire), the very last man you want to meet in a dark alley (or a lighted one, for that matter. Russian roulette, anyone?). A lot of people get shot. A lot. Many of them die… but they’re mostly all bad guys, so movie justice is done.

Steven Grant, author of the graphic novels that inspired the film, states, "I don’t actually believe in good and evil. From my perspective, people walk a line, fall on this side or that, and wobble back and forth." As the story progresses, several U.S. government agencies and members of the military fall firmly on the wrong side of that line. To quote Paxton, "… at the end of the day the only two men in the movie who have true honor are Bobby and Stig." It’s not the most encouraging scenario for patriotic moviegoers. There’s also the usual amount of profanity and crude language, but it’s generally delivered in such a charming way that it hardly even seems rude.

That’s the thing with this kind of film; you have to take the bad with the good. Of course that means 2 Guns is not for everyone, but if you’re looking to get out of the heat and have a little fun it’s well worth the price of admission, even at today’s inflated prices.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Alcohol consumed on several occasions. Man swallows what appear to be painkillers after being shot.
  • Language/Profanity: Quite a bit but it goes by fast due to the snappy pace of the dialogue. Several f-bombs, sometimes used in conjunction with “mother”; the bi**; sh**; da**; a character described as “God’s S.O.B.” (he works for a government agency); various colloquial anatomical references to male genitalia. Judging from the audience’s reaction some of the Spanish dialogue that was not subtitled (some was) included profanity or at least insults.
  • Sex/Nudity: Couple (not married) shown in bed together; both are topless. The same woman displays considerable cleavage even with her clothes on. Character noted as having a mistress.
  • Violent/Frightening/Intense:  It’s an action movie, so there is a significant amount of shooting, punching, and “run for your life” kind of activity.Most notably, several times men had guns aimed at their crotch at point-blank range. Live chickens buried in the ground up to their necks used for target practice. A severed head is partially shown inside a bag. Waterboarding is discussed and shown. Men are hung upside down and beaten with a baseball bat; an angry bull is later sent into the area where they’re hanging. A man slams a card filled with thumbtacks into another man (pointy side down, of course). Many people shot; several die. Man plays ‘Russian roulette’ as a form of torture. A bank is robbed; buildings are set on fire and explode cars and other means of transportation (more detail would be a spoiler) crash.
  • Spiritual Themes: There is a lot of betrayal going on from several directions. Bobby and Stig discuss living by a code and what that means. 

Publication date: August 2, 2013