2 Guns

Lately, super hero movies seem to be losing some of their power, if you'll forgive the expression. But comic book movies are still out there, just featuring different sorts of heroes. This one isn't secretly based on a comic book; they're pretty up front about that. And as far as I can tell, it sticks fairly closely to the source material, though hopefully the graphic novel had slightly better dialogue.

The good news: Denzel Washington (Unstoppable) plays one of the leads, DEA agent Robert Trench. He's currently undercover as a bad guy nicknamed Bobby Beans working for a drug lord called Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos, The Green Hornet). The bad news: Also working for Papi is Mark Wahlberg (The Other Guys) as undercover Naval Intelligence officer Michael 'Stig' Stigman. He basically has two different expressions that he uses in all his acting roles, namely 'confused' and 'angry', and he spends most of his time here looking confused. Sometimes he looks both at once, so maybe he's slowly expanding his repertoire. Very, very slowly.

Perhaps subconsciously sensing a fellow undercover operative, the two of them have become friends, sort of. They're at least slightly less vicious than the rest of the group -- well, Bobby is. I'm less sure about Stig given that terrible scene involving chickens that I'm trying very hard to forget. Anyway, Stig comes up with a plan to get rich -- or maybe get back at Papi for some reason, I'm not quite sure -- by robbing the sleepy small town bank where Papi keeps about $3 million of his ill-gotten gains in a safety deposit box.

Bobby says sure, thinking that the DEA can use the money to prove tax evasion and send Papi to jail in the time-honored method for criminal masterminds. And Stig's ulterior motive is to try to cripple Papi's activities by leaving him short of funds. Why the Navy, of all organizations, is doing this, I have no idea and they don't see fit to explain. You just have to accept the fact that the Navy is fighting in the war on drugs, under the doubtful leadership of one Commander Quince (James Marsden, The Box). He isn't a very likable sort, but at least he doesn't seem any more fond of Mark Wahlberg than I am.

The kicker is that when the bank is robbed, our heroes discover that every single safety deposit box in the place is stuffed with cash, to the tune of 43.125 million dollars. You'll get sick of hearing that number. Bill Paxton, who plays the ruthless, amoral Earl, chasing after the money on behalf of the owners, says "43.125 million" every time he references the money, and I started wanting to slap him for being so pedantic. Aside from this, however, he did a reasonably good job with the role.

Rounding out the cast are Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) as Bobby's handler with the DEA, and (briefly) Fred Ward of 30 Minutes or Less as Navy Admiral Tuwey. The acting was generally okay, though even seeming like he wasn't trying very hard, Denzel still blew Mark Wahlberg away in that respect. The plot was convoluted, and not in a good way -- possibly the result of trying to jam a multi-issue story arc into a two-hour film. There was too much left unexplained, and the whole thing felt disjointed somehow. I've been more bored at movies -- the actors did at least seem like they were having fun -- but not very often.

Three out of five is the absolute best I can do, though. Aside from the previously mentioned problem about why the Navy is getting involved in DEA issues, there were a couple of other issues. First, since it's pretty clear from the start that the two of them are maneuvered into robbing that bank because someone found out about that huge pile of cash, there's no indication of how they could have found out. It seems pretty unlikely, given that it was a top-secret stash. Second (and far worse), Bobby's plan to get Papi for tax evasion is doomed to fail, considering that Papi isn't a U.S. citizen and therefore doesn't have to pay U.S. income tax. Kind of shakes what little faith I had left in Hollywood screenwriters.

Image: 
Images from comic & screen. First meant to star Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.

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