‘Must see’ movie - 2 Guns

August has come to be regarded as somewhat of a celluloid dumping ground. It’s where lesser summer movies are cast off and buried in a landfill of indifference. But it can also be a month of unexpected gems. With the big studios’ orgy of superhero tentpoles and shock-and-awe action spectaculars now safely behind us, we can finally turn the page, take a deep breath, and, if we’re lucky, be pleasantly surprised. NMTBP doesn’t know if any movie starring two marquee heavyweights as consistently dependable as Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg can technically qualify as an under-the-radar stealth attack, but their new buddy crime caper, 2 Guns, caught us completely off guard in all the right ways

Washington and Wahlberg, two actors who can take themselves a bit too seriously at times, cut loose and seem to be having a blast swapping below-the-belt insults as a pair of undercover agents posing as drug dealers. Their assignment: nab a south-of-the-border cocaine kingpin played by Edward James Olmos. The catch: each is working for a different government agency and thinks his partner is a real-deal trafficker. Washington plays Bobby Trench, a deep-cover DEA agent decked out with blingy gold incisors, a salt-and-pepper goatee, and an interchangeable array of ring-a-ding-ding Rat Pack hats. Wahlberg is Marcus ‘Stig’ Stigman, a Navy Intelligence officer with a winking, cool-cat cockiness and a knack for cracking wise at exactly the wrong time. After a series of double crosses, the guys - each still trying to stick to his cover story as a criminal - plot to knock over a sleepy New Mexico bank. But the vault holds far more cash than it should. Without giving away too many of the film’s byzantine plot twists, let’s just say they soon figure out that neither one is who he says he is. So they’re forced to team up (for real this time) to find out who framed them and why. Back and forth they go across the U.S.-Mexico border, squaring off with their bureaucratic superiors (Paula Patton and James Marsden), Olmos’ posse of seedy henchmen, and, best of all, Bill Paxton, as a beady-eyed, bolo-tie-wearing sadist

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur seems to be out to turn 2 Guns into a sort of throwback to the sin-soaked Southwest noirs Sam Peckinpah made back in the early ’70s, like The Getaway and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia - only funnier and fleeter. Washington, flashing his signature frisky grin, is fast and loose in a way he hasn’t been since Training Day. And Wahlberg gives as good as he gets (if not better) as a motormouthed smart-ass

Ever since Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy first traded four-letter digs in 1982′s 48 Hrs., the black-and-white buddy formula has been trotted out so many times that it’s become a hack Hollywood screenwriting cliché. Thankfully, Blake Masters’ rat-a-tat dialogue doesn’t dwell on the leads’ racial differences. Washington’s Bobby and Wahlberg’s Stig clash simply because one’s a cynic who trusts no one and the other is as psyched as a puppy to have a playmate. Nothing more, nothing less

It’s probably best to forget the plot and simply enjoy this bumpy, bullet-ridden ride. Washington and Wahlberg make such a wonderful team - a modern Butch and Sundance in patter and aim - that you wonder why Hollywood never thought of this pairing before. Each character has an identifying quirk: for Bobby, a collection of straw fedoras; for Stig, a punctuating wink. Mostly the actors are just having fun and it’s contagious

2 Guns is a movie based on smart callbacks and sly flip-flops of loyalty, regularly interrupted by spasms of well-staged violence. The perplexing nature of Masters’ plot takes effort to sort through but sets up a terrific finale, literally a Mexican standoff between everyone wanting the money, with Bobby and Stig back-to-back in the middle, spraying gunfire in all directions. It’s a dynamic sequence that, like the rest of 2 Guns, proves overkill can be amusing

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August 21, 2013

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