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2 Guns
Our Rating
½ Stars - Poor
Average Rating
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Mpaa Rating
R (For violence throughout, language and brief nudity)
Directed By
Baltasar Kormákur
Run Time
1 hour 49 minutes
Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Edward James Olmos
Theatre Release
August 02, 2013 by Universal Pictures

I don't remember a movie ever making me feel as empty as 2 Guns made me feel.

Ever since Roger Ebert opened his review of Rob Reiner's North with "North is one of the most unpleasant, contrived, artificial, cloying experiences I've had at the movies," the Entertainingly Hateful Review has become a mainstay of internet film criticism. Critics compete to be the cleverest/hatingest/adjective-ing-est reviewer to dump on the culturally-sanctioned Bad Movie (Transformers or Battleship or Grown Ups 2). 2 Guns seems like a natural target.

But four days after seeing the film, any anger I could have towards 2 Guns has faded into . . . just emptiness, I think. I don't even really want to talk about the movie, because the movie isn't bad in a way that's fun to talk about. It's just aggressively shallow and transparently nihilistic. In 2 Guns, the abyss doesn't just stare back, but it tags along with you after you've quit staring. It is, form and content both, profoundly hollow. And not only does it advocate for almost universal meaninglessness, it seems to revel in it.

Universal Pictures

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, as dirty secret agents, collaborate to rob a bank at the behest of their respective authorities (and neither one knows the other one is affiliated with the U.S. government). But after their heist, they end up $39.125 million-ish dollars richer than they expected to be, which sets in motion what may be the most convoluted plot to plod across the big screen in years. The Navy is involved via Wahlberg, the DEA via Washington, and then appears the magnificent Bill Paxton as the regional director of the CIA. It's a convoluted mess of acronyms and plot twists that don't stop coming, and disentangling the narrative strands would take two thousand more words than I have.

So here's the movie's core problem: 2 Guns doesn't just show broken people, but seems to say that everything is broken; doesn't just insinuate that the government is corrupt, but that all authority exists to be mocked, shot at, and (at the end of the movie) mocked and shot at at the same time. The film is possibly the ur-Male Power Fantasy, as Washington and Wahlberg eliminate everybody who could possibly give them orders.

(Warning: From here on, there are a few plot spoilers.)

Wahlberg's trademark move is excessive winking at women (and occasionally men), a process he calls "Making someone his b-tch." The first shot of Washington's ex-girlfriend (with whom he's still sleeping) Paula Patton is an establishing shot of her breasts that pans up to reveal her face as she climbs on top of Washington, a scene that's maybe a perfect encapsulation of how the movie portrays women.

Or, scratch that—maybe the scene I'm thinking of is when Washington stares through an apartment window at Patton's lifeless body, looking like a kid who had a toy taken away. (But it's okay that she was shot in the head, according to the movie's logic—she double-crossed Washington and slept with Wahlberg's enemy/authority figure, and in this movie the two are always synonymous—and so she's totally worthless.)

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2 Guns