2 Guns

Year: 2013
Studio: Universal
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Blake Masters/Steven Grant
Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Edward James Olmos, James Marsden, Fred Ward

This is another curious artefact from pop culture that reveals a very American sentiment – that all the other military-industrial complex services (the FBI, DEA, Navy, etc) are shown as virtuous and dignified while the CIA is a bunch of slimy, self-appointed crime lords who are above the law and more concerned with fortifying their positions than protecting America.

You get that sense from the movie as soon as head villian Earl (Bill Paxton, in full slippery snake mode) shows up, all vulpine smiles, fake southern-fried charm and an undercurrent of bloodthirsty threat.

He comes into the picture thanks to the two heroes, small time hoods Bobby (Denzel Washington) and Stig (Mark Wahlberg). We meet them sitting in a diner planning to hold up the bank across the road, bantering with each other in tried and true buddy cop/lovable criminal fashion.

They're there to rob the bank because they owe a fearsome drug lord across the Mexican border, Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos), a lot of money. Bobby has been dealing with Papi to get product across the border, but when a drop to purchase fake passports goes awry, Greco orders Bobby and the scuzzy partner he's picked up, Stig, to pay the shortfall or pay the consequences.

While coming back across the border they're picked up by the DEA and the whole thing seems a bust before we learn Bobby is actually a DEA agent, working Papi to bring him down, and with Stig only a stooge in his scheme.

We fast forward back to the robbery – Bobby knows it's where Papi stashes his money and figures they can use it to bust him for money laundering if nothing else. The robbery goes off without a hitch before Bobby and Stig realise they've bitten off more than they can chew – expecting around three million, they instead find over $40m, a sum someone much bigger and scarier than Papi will undoubtedly want back.

To make things more complicated, Stig is actually a Navy Intelligence agent, ordered by his superiors to purloin the money to fund covert operations. At the last minute following their getaway, he shoots Bobby and makes off with the loot.

Bobby survies after crawling through the desert, making his way bak to civilisation and going to Stig's warehoue apartment to confront him. Stig, meanwhile, is holed up across the street with a sniper rifle trained on Bobby, knowing full well the latter will be gunning for him. Just as he calls Bobby on the phone to warn him off, a hit squad sent by his commander (James Marsden) closes in, intended to kill him.

Realising they can't trust anybody, Stig and Bobby team up to escape and (in tried and true buddy cop/lovable criminal fashion) realise they have to work together to clear their names and stay alive. The stakes are only rasied higher when the guys realise none other than the CIA used the bank they hit for their filthy lucre, and Earl is one step behind Bobby and Stig all the way, scarily and at-times violently interrogating everyone about how to find his quarry.

There's a lot more to it including subplots about Bobby's girlfriend and colleague Deb (Paula Patton, who meets a fate I didn't see coming and which directly contradicts the 'if you didn't see them die they're not dead' rule), but it's all very cohesive.

The story isn't the most successful or original you've ever seen, but it's very solidly put together and keeps all its balls in the air with aplomb. There are plenty of cool shootout scenes and Washington and Wahlberg's charisma at the centre of it all ensure you'll have a good time.

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