2 Guns a Blu-ray buddy blast
By Jim Bray
Buddy movies are a dime a dozen, but rarer are the ones that are actually worth watching.
Ditto for movies based on comic books - er, "graphic novels" - which are also a dime a dozen. Fortunately, there are plenty of these that have made good movies, including the likes of Hellboy, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and, of course, the many, many adaptations of famous comic book franchises from the Marvel and DC universes.
Into this fray enters what looks like a straightforward and violent buddy flick that, thanks to a good script and cast, rises above the more mundane competitors, making it well worth your while as long as you don't shrink at the sight of violence. If you do shrink from it, you may be about two inches tall by the time the closing credits roll here…
Not that the violence here is over the top and disgustingly gross, as was the case with the comic-based Dredd 3D from earlier this year (though judging from the email I got for my slam of that movie my head must have been inserted firmly somewhere quite dark - but I stand by that review). In 2 Guns, the violence is more measured, as is the gore. And that's good because it doesn't get in the way of what's a pretty fun and entertaining story.
Denzel Washington leads an excellent cast of journeyman performers that includes co-star "buddy" Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Edward James Olmos (who's "Olmos" as good here as he usually is), James Marsden, and Bill Paxton. They all turn in good work here, though perhaps Paxton has the most fun with his role.
The plot is pretty complex and involves international drug running, espionage, corrupt federal agents and a $43 million Maguffin. I won't dwell on the story lest I spoil it, but it's the type of flick in which you're often not quite sure who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. And as it turns out, not everyone is as good or as bad as it may seem initially. Or are they? How's that for vague?
Washington is undercover DEA agent Bobby Trench, who appears to have glommed onto an apparently ne'er-do-well dude nicknamed "Stig," who bears no resemblance or relationship to Top Gear's tame racing driver. Stig (Wahlberg) is about as loose a cannon as you could find, and as the film opens he and Trench are about to rob a bank. Naturally, all doesn't work out as planned and the buddies end up having nearly everyone on earth after their bodies. So they hide. And plan. And act. And shoot.
There may be some cussing involved as well.
The film isn't a complete success, but it's very entertaining and it never drags. The script works, and so does the chemistry between the characters - especially the buddies, of course - and the movie zipps along at a lighthearted and energetic pace.
When all is said and done, what we have in 2 Gundsan interesting roller coaster ride of a flick that could have more meat below its surface, but whose surface is darn fun anyway and to heck with the meat.
2 Guns on video is available via conventional discs (BD and DVD), and Universal is also pushing its HD digital download version, though at my request they sent the Blu-ray because I'm not yet convinced about the overall video and audio quality of a download compared to a good, old fashioned 50 gig optical disc.
The good old fashioned Blu-ray the studio sent also includes a DVD and Ultraviolet digital copy you can download for viewing on TV, computer, tablet or smart phone. I only watched the Blu-ray, whose 1080p/24 picture is quite good but not spectacular. Fine detail is, well, fine and there's decent depth and color, but it seems a tad soft at times and so falls short of "reference quality."
The lossless audio track is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and it delivers as it should for an action movie such as this. There are explosions and gunshots galore, and a good musical score, yet the dialogue is never lost in the mix. The dynamic range is great and uses all channels very well, though the rears are used mostly (though not exclusively) for atmosphere.
And of course you get numerous extras, some of which are pretty good.
There's an audio commentary track with director Baltasar Kormákur and Producer Adam Siegel, both of whom contribute a nice ebullience to the track. You may not learn as much about the film you want, but you'll be entertained.
There's also a short, HD behind the scenes featurette (Undercover and Into Action)s and a series of deleted scenes.
2 Guns turned out to be a lot better than I had expected. I knew nothing about its graphic novel genesis (not that that would have scared me off) and from the commercials I didn't expect much. But while the film doesn't really break any new ground, its straightforward and non-apologetic buddy-comedy-style plot drew me into it and its fast paced and fairly involved (and involving) plot entertained me for its 110 minute running time.
Copyright 2013 Jim Bray
Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.