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Recipe for ‘Two Guns’ should have included more sense

By Gary Clift

The new film “Two Guns” seems to have been made up like a stir-fry. Take the recognizable personalities of stars Denzel Washington and Marky Mark Wahlberg, lots of wild crime action scenes, a pinch of sex, a big bunch of gaudy patter, and half a cup of restrained sentiment, chop everything up into manageable pieces, and heat it in a wok to get something like this movie.

What’s left out is logic. The story never makes any sense. The characters frequently do things for which they have no discernible motivation. And because the tone here isn’t all that elevated—unlike “RED 2” and “RIPD,” two good comic action pictures currently showing at the twelve-plex—the movie doesn’t earn a pass on plausibility.

So what we have here is a mixed business. The action scenes work pretty well, but seem a bit short by contemporary standards. The buddy-movie dark comedy frequently reminds us that director Baltasar Kormákur intends us to be having bad-natured fun here. But viewers may be distracted if they wonder why so and so is doing this or that during the course of the movie.

And then we have the wretched multiple flashback confusion in the film’s first twenty minutes. By the end of the movie, viewers may think they’ve seen Bobby (Washington) and Stigman (Wahlberg) approach the same diner across the street from the same odd, free-standing, southwestern bank five or six times. Here’s a tip: I think there are two diners and two banks, and they only go into each of the diners once. I think.

Somehow—we never really learn how—an undercover DEA agent (Bobby) has taken on a partner, undercover Naval special ops guy Stigman. They each think the other is just a wise-cracking dope dealer.

They go to see a Mexican drug lord (Edward James Olmos) who is supposed to give them cocaine for 500 U.S. Passports. He doesn’t have the cocaine and offers them cash. They refuse the cash and leave without recriminations, to stake out the drug lord’s house north of the border. When he visits there he always has something taken for him to the local bank.

Somehow—I was never sure how—the boys conclude that he must be caching money in his safety deposit box, and they estimate he’ll have $3 million there. They blow up the diner so no one will be idling across the street from the bank. Then they lock up all the local police, blow the door off every safety deposit box, and come away with over $43 million.

Bobby’s handler and lover, Deb (Paula Patton) isn’t outside the bank at the end of the robbery, though she had agreed to be there to pick up the money and—I think—to arrest Stigman. So the boys go out into the desert and fight over the dough. Stigman finally shoots Bobby and takes the proceeds of the robbery to his commander, a naval officer played by local hero James Marsden.

And from then on just about nothing makes any sense. The money seems to belong to a three man team of CIA agents led by Bill Paxton. The drug lord wants the funds too, and he kidnaps Deb to force Bobby to bring the money to him. The double-dealing Deb feels unconvincingly guilty about having used Bobby, so despite her knowledge of the money’s location, she encourages the drug lord to shoot her. Why he wants to shoot her I couldn’t figure.

But lots of people are shot in “Two Guns,” and the shooting scenes are just about the movie’s best. Stigman lives in a loft. For some reason he sets himself up as a sniper across the street from his own apartment. Bobby comes in, looking for the money. He is followed by CIA guys. Stigman, looking through his night scope and into the apartment, gives Bobby flight directions over a cell phone. And Stigman also shoots at the spooks, giving Bobby additional escape chances.

Oh, there are car chases and late night knocks on the door. Paxton has an Russian roulette interrogation schtick to repeat. Marsden and Fred Ward, the film’s most effective actors, don’t get enough screen time.

Then “Two Guns” is over. And before we even get out of the theater, we’re hungry again. Too much MSG in the stir-fry. Not enough sense in the script.

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