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By Chris Rebholz
Nov 22, 2013 12:08 PM EST

2 Guns Blu-ray Review

2 Guns fires wide and runs out of ammo long before its double and triple crosses are exhausted.
2 Guns Blu-ray Review
Purchase  Blu-ray | Digital HD
Double crosses. Triple crosses. An extra helping of crosses on top of increasingly tangled numerical crosses. 2 Guns is a buddy cop genre pic in the guise of a punchy pulp comic book actioner, one that attempts to toy with convention, actively subvert every action-movie cliché in the book, and crack a few familiar, wise-crackin' skulls in the process. Trouble is director Baltasar Kormákur and screenwriter Blake Masters' adaptation of Steven Grant's original graphic novel isn't nearly as clever as it thinks it is, and never quite manages to lift Grant's colorful characters off the page. That little consolation prize instead comes courtesy of Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg and the duo's scene-chewing supporting cast, who at least make 2 Guns watchable. Entertaining even... if that is you're willing to switch off your brain and take the movie on its own flash-bang terms.

Meet Bobby (Denzel Washington) and Stig (Mark Wahlberg): criminals for hire, except that they're not really criminals. Bobby is an undercover DEA agent, Stig is an undercover NCIS officer. There's just one problem... each one thinks the other is exactly what he claims to be. Soon the two join forces to steal $3 million from Mexican drug lord Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) for their respective agencies, only to discover the take is actually $43 million. The stakes are suddenly that much higher. Thirteen back-stabs and betrayals later, Bobby and Stig struggle to gain their bearings, and neither one knows who to trust. With so much cash up for grabs, the duo find themselves in the crosshairs. But who does the money belong to? And who can Bobby and Stig trust? Greco? Navy Admiral Tuway (Fred Ward)? Bobby's lover Deb Rees (Paula Patton)? Stig's commander Quince (James Marsden)? Bloodthirsty power player Earl (Bill Paxton)? Kormákur? Masters?

I couldn't help but think of Sylvain White's The Losers while sitting through 2 Guns, followed almost immediately by two-dozen other high-action shoot-em-ups; every single one of them backed by big-blockbuster casts that are far and away their films' greatest assets. Kormákur and Masters take loving shot after loving shot at the genre to scattershot ends, dropping one-liners and shell casings as if both were going out of style. 2 Guns doesn't rise above the action-movie fray so much as it takes a turn in an already crowded firing range. It's a wild free-for-all that doesn't try to hide the Big Dumb Fun coursing beneath its surface, with Olmos, Marsden and especially Paxton having the times of their lives. But it's also a shaky, unreliable, unnecessarily convoluted misfire that would tip over if Washington and Wahlberg weren't so busy steadying it. Even when next to nothing makes sense, even when gaping plot holes threaten to swallow up what little plausibility Kormákur tries to establish, even when their performances amount to one over-the-top round of mugging after the other, both A-listers deliver.

And it's a tricky balance. Get a kick out of headliners like Washington and Wahlberg dabbling in the dark side? Willing to look the other way when plot twists are obvious and plot progression is needlessly complicated? Value comic book gunplay, colorful criminals and angsty antiheroes above... well, anything more compelling? 2 Guns is for you. There's just plenty more like it out there, and plenty more on the horizon. Escapism isn't exactly a new pastime. We've been dumping billions into the hard-R action grinder for decades. Films like 2 Guns, though, are caught between genre classicism and more contemporary, self-aware thrills, paying homage to the guilty pleasures of the '90s while taking a stab at something newer and more clever. Once in a great while, a film comes along that strikes that balance and enters the new action format. 2 Guns is not that film, fun as it is if you're able to set aside expectations, switch off your brain, and be entertained by good actors knowingly sinking their teeth into a fatty, gristly script.

2 Guns takes aim with a killer 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation that rarely, if ever, disappoints. Colors are warm and carefully saturated, black levels are exceedingly deep (with only intermittent instances of crush), and skintones look great. Detail is excellent, with crisply defined edges, well-resolved textures and exacting close-ups. Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track kicks down door after door, guns blazing. Shootouts, explosions, throaty dune buggies, roaring engines and thundering helicopter attacks feature ample low-end heft, and the LFE channel makes its presence known. And with bullets ricocheting, shrapnel flying and debris scattering, the sound field is immersive and involving.

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary: An initially reserved Baltasar Kormakur joins fast-talking producer Adam Siegel for a somewhat uneven commentary that nevertheless addresses most every question and curiosity a fan of 2 Guns might have. The two spend a lot of time pointing out the film's action cliches, noting how intentional the use and attempted subversion of each one is, and take time to outline the project's genesis, development, casting, production and visual effects.
  • Click, Click, Bang, Bang: The Making of 2 Guns: This fairly extensive tour of the production comes complete with plenty of cast and crew interviews, behind the scenes footage, a look at the adaptation of the original comic book, an overview of the film's inspirations and more. Four chapters are available: "Undercover and into Action," "The Good, the Bad and the Sexy," "Finding the Vibe" and "Living Dangerously."
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes: Eight scenes are included: "Bring a Kid to Work Day," "Clown or Frankie," "Where's Your Badge," "Do Me a Favor," "Afraid of Heights," "What Comes Around Goes Around," "Saddle Up" and "Bobby Gets Motel Key."

2 Guns fires wide and runs out of ammo long before its double and triple crosses are exhausted, making for an R-rated popcorn shoot-em-up that's big on action and little else. Washington, Wahlberg, Olmos, Paxton and Marsden keep it all entertaining, but only just. Universal's Blu-ray release is much better, with a terrific video presentation, hard-hitting DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and a solid complement of special features sure to satisfy fans of the film. Even so, it's only a matter of time before 2 Guns lands in the bargain bin at Best Buy.

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MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 109 minutes
Distributed By: Universal Pictures

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About Chris Rebholz

FlickDirect, Chris  Rebholz

When Chris was but a wee lad growing up in the slums of suburban New Jersey, he happened to rent a little movie called Tron. Then his head exploded. It was at the moment that he realized that he loved movies, and since then Chris has made it a habit of renting movies, going to the movies, discussing his favorite movies, and anything else in between when it comes to that genre. Read more reviews and content by .

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