All too often we're delivered a trailer to get us which carries the main plot points, the main scenes, and even some of the reveals of the film, so when it comes time for the actual film it doesn't feel fresh and doesn't surprise.
2 Guns seemed as though it was going to be a buddy action film and perhaps something we'd seen a number of times before, and at times done well. So imagine my surprise when the plot points don't play out as you see them in the trailer, which is edited rather cleverly, which doesn't reveal any spoilers. The surprises kept coming right to the end.
Going back to one of my opening comments regarding the trailers and how they presented a story that doesn't reveal too much of the actual film, that's actually a surprising thing to see these days, in fact it's positively amazing. So often we see trailers that reveal one or more important points or reveals and at first viewing it appeared this was the case with the 2 Guns trailer. After seeing a couple I thought they'd revealed just about everything the film had to offer but I was in for a surprise. It was clear that they had been edited around to give us the feel for the story but not to reveal anything in the film itself, and that's clever and very welcome.
2 Guns opens with an interesting narrative flow, jumping through a couple of different points in the storyline but never losing you as to where the characters and the story are. It pulls the audience in as it delivers something a little different from what's normally expected at this point and builds the pace and excitement of the story very quickly.
One of the big surprises of the film for me is just how well both Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg work together. Washington is fantastic and I wasn't expecting anything less from him, even his mediocre is engaging and interesting to watch, but Wahlberg is a different matter.
With Wahlberg I really wasn't sure if which one of the extremes of his performances we were going to be getting, extremes which range from terrible to very good, given in terms of films I might suggest The Happening (Filmstalker review) to The Fighter (Filmstalker review) or The Departed (Filmstalker review). As it turned out he's on top form here and the character and style suits him really well. What's more paired with Washington his performance elevates and the two make for a great team that reminded me of that of the excellent pairing from the Lethal Weapon series.
The characters are given some well written lines to deliver and the interplay between the two in both the script and their delivery is slick and produced with excellent timing. This could well be down to the original graphic novel series that the story is taken from, written by Steven Grant, it could also be down to the screenplay from Blake Masters who also wrote for Brotherhood and Law & Order: Los Angeles, both shows that require strong, realistic dialogue and which is apparent in this script.
While the script gives the film the characters and the situations I don't really think that it would be nearly as enjoyable without the style of these two leading actors. It's these two names and their relationship on screen that are one of the main reasons for going to see 2 Guns, without that it would still be a good action thriller but with them it's so much more.
There are also some strong supporting actors as well with Bill Paxton, Edward James Olmos, Paula Patton, Fred Ward, James Marsden and Robert John Burke, all of whom add to the film and show signs of the strong casting continuing through the headlining names. Paxton has a great character to play and he held back from some of his career trademark over the top moments and played it much straighter and considered, and his character is all the better for it as he gets some great scenes and speeches which make him a formidable bad guy.
While the cast is great they also have a strong script behind them that has more than the average action adventure film, in fact this film has a much more clever and intricate plot than most of the standard fare in the genre. While before viewing it would be easy to mistake it for an action adventure comparable to films like Lethal Weapon here there's much more thriller with a plot that is more than a caricature bad guy threatening the good guys who have to bear him. While there's much more to the film fans of the action adventure won't be disappointed, it still has everything there, just more of it and better done.
One stand out aspect of the script which gives the same feeling as the trailer did for the film is the genuine feeling of not knowing what was going to happen next. There seemed to be a bucking of tradition in some key places and even when the script didn't take a complete right turn from where you were expecting it to go, it would take a slight detour. This was accomplished through the dialogue, character decisions, plot turns, or even the editing. All these above aspects combine to give us a film that is different, and more enjoyable, from the norm.
The action sequences are stylishly shot and get the heart pumping without losing you in multiple jump cuts or closely cropped shots. There's also a clever use of locations throughout the action, the cattle ranch being one such example where the action flows in and out of the cattle runs and through the cattle themselves. While some of this could have come from the graphic novel and the scripting - I haven't read the original stories myself so I can't comment - it does feel as though the director Baltasar Kormákur has brought a lot of his style from Contraband and The Deep (Djúpið) (Filmstalker review). Strangely Contraband was another film starring Mark Wahlberg from this director that had the same sort of feel of 2 Guns and that I was surprised to find I enjoyed. Again it carried more depth and power than the film I was expecting, something that is also true of 2 Guns.
2 Guns was a surprisingly good film which not only met my expectations from the trailer but heavily exceeded them. It carries a good dose of action, thriller and comedy, and strong writing and stylish direction is met with similar acting and a great duo heading up the cast and the story.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are great on screen together and their relationship and dialogue give for great comedy amidst the action and excitement, and it never loses sight of the core of the film which is more thriller than anything.
This buddy action thriller, which makes me think of something akin to a modernised Lethal Weapon with added thriller, has a sequel written all over it, and quite rightly so.