Sometimes all you need is star power to draw people to your movie. Even if the film isn’t very good you may still be able to snag a profit should people be drawn in by the actors. I call this the Brad Pitt effect. Or if you’re a hateful person, the Adam Sandler money-making-cycle-of-douche.
So maybe this weekend you’ll see the Brad Pitt effect happen to 2 Guns. After all, it’s got Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlburg, two actors who have been known to rake in some box office cash from time to time. Then again, maybe not.
2 Guns stars Denzel as Robert Trench (aka Bobby Beans), a DEA agent who has spent the last several years weaseling his way into a Mexican cartel. Alongside him is Marky Mark (I hear he hates it when people call him that) as Michael Stigman (aka Stig), an enlisted member of the Armed Forces who has spent 10 months weaseling his way into Bobby’s good graces at the behest of his superiors.
Don’t get mad at me, all that information was in the trailer.
Our movie kicks off with Bobby and Stig going to Mexico in an effort to trade passports for cocaine. Unfortunately, the cartel leader, Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos), isn’t feeling too trusting so he tries to give Bobby cash instead of drugs. Since Bobby needs the drugs to bust Papi, he listens to Stig’s suggestion and takes a circuitous route towards incriminating Papi.
By circuitous route, I mean they rob a bank that’s supposed to be filled with Papi’s cash, which Bobby can somehow use to get Papi arrested. Again, as spoiled by the trailer it’s not Papi’s cash they stole, so several shits hit the fan simultaneously.
If you’re wondering why I keep mentioning the trailer, it’s because they did a fantastic job of hinting at what 2 Guns was going to be like without spoiling most of the plot. Sure, they spoil entire scenes, but they don’t let on just how incredibly convoluted the movie really is.
But then, that’s the problem. There are so many twists, turns and double-crosses here that you’d be a fool to try and keep track of them all. Every time you think you know who did what, 2 Guns will happily prove you wrong a few minutes later. Yet despite all that the film still manages to be incredibly predictable while still succeeding at being a hot mess.
And that, my friends, is why I claim we may see the Brad Pitt effect. Because despite how unnecessarily long and convoluted 2 Guns is, Denzel and Wahlburg are both lots of fun to watch. They have a very comfortable flow with each other, riffing lines back and forth at an impressive pace. They also steal the show whenever they share screen time with anyone else, whether dealing with DEA agent Deb (Paula Patton), Navy asshole Quince (James Marsden) or mystery man Earl (Bill Paxton).
Topping it all off, this is a very standard hero action movie. The good guys never miss when it matters, and the bad guys are all retired Storm Troopers. No matter how much pain they take, the heroes still have enough energy to run, jump, shoot and punch. You are never in any doubt as to who will win in the end, you’re merely watching to see how they win.
All these issues makes grading a film like this difficult. On the one hand, I enjoyed myself. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlburg were a likeable, entertaining duo. There was plenty of action and some clever writing. On the other hand, the plot was terrible, needlessly convoluted and downright hokey at times. Nobody else really mattered in the movie, and I never felt even a moment’s tension, even during the parts of the film where the heroes were under extreme duress.
2 Guns: C+