Movie: 2 Guns; Director: Baltasar Kormakur; Studio: Universal Pictures; Rating: R; Flint's finding: 3 out of 5 stars.
This could very well have been the action movie for these dark, untrusting times. Consider - if you don't already - that corruption oozes from every government agency, and perhaps a primary reason so many die in the drug trade is because the cartels are enabled by those governments.
It doesn't seem so far from the truth in the thoughts of many, and "2 Guns" throws those people a bone, in tongue-in-cheek ways. But if this movie tried to be a serious commentary on the fringes of government overreach and lack of transparency, this movie fails. The good thing is, that wasn't the intention at all.
The title says it all. There are two reasons to see this movie and their names are Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, who surprisingly have amazing chemistry, despite their different acting styles. That chemistry made me yearn for the slower parts of the movie when the guns aren't firing, just to watch them interact.
Washington plays Bobby, a DEA agent who morphs into his undercover job as a cartel drug runner with the help of a series of fedoras and gold tooth-caps. Likewise, Wahlberg plays Stig, an undercover Naval intelligence agent who winks at all the ladies and mispronounces words.
Neither knows the other is undercover, and both are hoping to bust the other on the road to taking down Papi Greco, played by Edward James Olmos, famous as Admiral William Adama in TV's "Battlestar Galactica" and as Lt. Martin Castillo in "Miami Vice." Greco is a Mexican cartel boss who has anyone who double-crosses him beheaded.
Their higher-ups approve of a robbery in a small border-town bank across the street from a diner with the "best donuts in three counties," something that makes them a tad nervous because the police department is right around the corner and the local cops are quite heavy.
In an inane moment at the beginning of the film, they take care of this by setting the diner on fire. Apparently when these agents go undercover they have complete license for committing felonies, something that real-world undercover officers do not.
The only trouble is the $3 million they expect to find in the bank to trace back to Papi turns into $43.125 million. That money, we'll find, turns out to be the property of a much more dangerous organization than a Mexican cartel - an organization, if popular lore holds true, with a license to kill.
To really comment on the film's government-corruption angle would be to reveal some of the many twists this movie has in play and, as stated earlier, it's all really just a fun side angle without real bite.
Let's just say that Bill Paxton, for the first time ever maybe, appears intimidating as a psychotic CIA agent without remorse, morals or patience. And with a haircut and cowboy style that
goes well with the sweltering heat that sticks to every scene.
In the end, there will be very little memorable about the film's plot, which, despite its twists, is a pretty basic buddy action film. But the buddy part is remarkable.
Without Hollywood's usual computer-generated effects to ruin absolutely everything, the action sequences (including a very well-done Mexican standoff and a money-rain) ring with fury and sun-drenched awesomeness that pale only in comparison to the dynamics in play between the two leads.
As we go into the Hollywood dumping grounds that is August, make sure you don't miss out on one of the most fun classic-style, movie-star-driven action movies to be released this year.
(Flint McColgan is a staff writer for The Minot Daily News. His movie reviews appear in Thursday's Arts & Entertainment section.)