Silver Screen: Two Guns ***
Possible indications that you are getting old: You know how to fix the tracking on a VCR. You refer to “Blurred Lines” as “That song by Alan Thicke’s kid.” No one has ever texted you a photograph of their genitals. You’re relieved when you go to a concert and everyone stays in their seats. You enjoyed the movie Two Guns.
I dug Two Guns, although I take that less as an indication of the film’s quality than a sign of my own impending mortality. Two Guns is an old-school shoot ‘em up with minimal computer effects and green-screened shots, no superheroes, no magic powers, and no robots. It’s in the vein of 1980s/early 1990s buddy-cop action movies like Lethal Weapon, Tango and Cash, and Forty-eight Hours, which is to say it’s a latter-day example of a dying breed. Of course, that’s not the same as saying it’s particularly great.
The film, based on the graphic novels by veteran comic-book writer Steven Grant, has one neat idea it spends early on. Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) is a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who’s been undercover for three years trying to set up the head of a drug cartel (Edward James Olmos). “Stig” Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) is a Navy intelligence officer working to bring down the same cartel. Trouble is, neither man knows the other is undercover, so each thinks they are setting the other up as part of a larger sting on the cartel.
It’s a funny premise, but that confusion gets sorted out early on after a bank robbery takes an odd turn. Bobby finds himself in too deep, while Stig discovers he’s part of an internal setup by his duplicitous superior officer (James Marsden). Thus the two friends-turned-enemies must become buddies once more to sort out their mutual conundrum.
At this point the movie becomes a series of shootouts, snappy retorts, and double-crosses. Those double-crosses become perfunctory very quickly-- the movie’s attempt at a big surprise twist totally rings hollow-- but the shootouts are filmed with some verve by director Baltasar Kormákur, and Blake Masters’s screenplay gives the two veteran actors some decent lines to chew on. The chemistry between Washington and Wahlberg propels it forward, and Bill Paxton’s generically sleazy southern lawman is just a bonus. All three guys seem like they’re having a ton of fun, and that enthusiasm carries over into the audience.
Trying to remember a single salient detail or remarkable moment from Two Guns, even just a few days after seeing it, is as impossible as trying to recall the combination to your gym locker in high school. The specifics of Two Guns evaporate as quickly as rubbing alcohol spilled on a hot summer sidewalk, but it’s good fun while it lasts. It’ll make a great matinee at the retirement home one day, sooner for all of us than we might think-- so take your superhero sequels and computer-generated-imagery fantasy epics and get the hell off my lawn.
Follow Bryan Miller on Twitter@bmillercomedy.