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2 Guns Blu-ray Review - RecommendedBlu-ray Universal
Nov 28 2013 10:35 PM | Kevin EK in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
- Studio: Universal
- Distributed By: N/A
- Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- Rating: R
- Run Time: 1 Hr. 50 Min.
- Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
- Case Type:
- Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
- Region: ABC
- Release Date: 11/19/2013
- MSRP: $34.98
The Production Rating: 3.5/52 Guns is a movie that, on face value, shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does, for as long as it does. It’s an action movie threaded around a fairly simple and contrived story. It’s not blazing any new ground, when you think about it. It’s simply the story of Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and Stig Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) and their odyssey navigating both sides of the border and the law as events and buildings explode around them. And it’s outrageously, shamelessly over the top, practically from the first scene, wherein we see Trench and Stigman casually blow up a diner as a prelude to a much bigger idea. But it works quite well for much of its running time. A good deal of this can be attributed to the strength of the performances here. Freely ad-libbing through many of their scenes, Wahlberg and Washington make a good combination. They’re clearly having fun playing cops and robbers here, and it’s infectious. As a throwback to earlier buddy action movies like Lethal Weapon and Midnight Run, this movie really does work for a good part of its running time. Eventually, the movie does implode under its own weight, but it provides a lot of entertainment before we get to that point. On the strength of that, I can Recommend this for a rental, particularly for fans of Wahlberg and Washington, but also for action movie fans in general.
SPOILER WARNING: SKIP THESE PARAGRAPHS IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE: 2 Guns is happily and gleefully cribbing from earlier action movies, most particularly the Walter Matthau vehicle Charley Varrick, but it does provide a more current spin on the events. In a fairly smart move, the film begins in medias res, with the characters of Trench and Stig already setting themselves up for a major bank robbery that will be the event that drives the rest of the movie. As director Baltasar Kormakur notes in his commentary, it’s a stronger choice to start this movie with the guys already working together and playing off each other than to spend time trying to establish everything. And within the first scene, we watch Trench and Stig argue with each other in a diner about everything from the quality of the donuts (which could be an omen toward whether it’s a good idea to rob that bank across the street…), to what breakfast they should order to how much of a tip Trench should leave the waitress. It’s a breezy conversation, but it’s also a lot of fun, full of the improvisation these guys will be doing throughout the movie. It’s exactly what you’d expect, for the most part, showing these two as a pair of criminals on the make. Of course, they do blow up the place along the way, but that’s just to provide the big opening the audience would expect from this kind of movie. The movie then moves backwards in time to show how this situation got set up in the first place. And in an assured style, each scene in turn establishes a new framework within which to understand the last one. First, we see the guys trying to make a big deal with Mexican kingpin Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos), which doesn’t pan out, but does provide the audience with a generous amount of improvised play between all the actors. Then we see Trench and Stig get stopped by Customs while crossing back into the US. At which point, we learn that Trench is actually an undercover DEA agent trying to bust both Papi and Stig. And a couple of scenes later, we learn that Stig is actually an undercover NCIS agent trying to bust Papi and Trench. So now we know that both of these guys are effectively cops, and neither knows the other’s true nature.
MORE SPOILERS: The movie starts to lay it on a little thick with the idea of Naval officers authorizing a major bank robbery, but it gets by with a robbery scene partly lifted from Point Break. This is where the Charley Varrick material really comes into play, as Trench and Stig rob the Tres Cruces Bank thinking they’ll get a few million from Papi and force his hand. But they actually walk out with a much, much higher number – in the tens of millions. Just as in The Bank Job and Charley Varrick, the real problems now begin for Trench and Stig. The movie effectively pinwheels through a number of action sequences following the robbery, as the guys square off against an escalating series of adversaries, including Greco and his men, Stig’s corrupt Navy guys (led by James Marsden), and Earl, a mysterious southern gentleman with a nasty habit of conducting interrogation via pistol (Bill Paxton, clearly enjoying himself). Predictably, Trench and Stig realize the truth about each other and work to find a way to get themselves out of the mess. And it’s in the process of working out that endgame that the movie really does finally overwhelm itself, culminating in the massive shootout seen on the box cover and in all the trailers. The problem with that shootout is that it’s frankly impossible to believe that ANYONE could survive it, so the suspension of disbelief gets blown up with a lot of the scenery.
FINAL SPOILERS: In the end, 2 Guns does go off the deep end, guns blazing all the way. But there’s something almost admirable about the way the movie does it with such enthusiasm. Beyond the initial cleverness of its construction, the real pleasure here is watching the performances. As noted, Wahlberg and Washington are clearly enjoying themselves, riffing off each other in a casual but effective manner throughout the movie. Buttressing those performances in a big way are Edward James Olmos and Bill Paxton. Both are playing villains in this piece, and are obviously relishing the opportunity. It’s especially ironic to see Olmos, who has played lawmen and authority figures for most of his career, cutting loose in the role of a swaggering drug kingpin. Paxton, for his part, is having fun in a supporting role, practically oozing casual menace as Earl conducts his business. There’s an appealing chemistry at play here, and that goes a long way toward making this movie go down as happily as it does. To his credit, director Baltasar Kormakur thankfully steps out of the way of the cast and just lets them play whenever possible. And he seems to have learned to cool it with the shaky cam after going over the top with it in Contraband. Working with a budget more than twice the size of Contraband, he’s actually crafted a fairly solid piece of work. The Louisiana and New Mexico locations get shown off to a beautiful extent, and Kormakur mostly keeps things clear in his staging. A couple of car chases are not as clear, but overall, there’s a definite improvement over what happened on the prior film. So there’s enough right in this movie to Recommend a Rental, even if it doesn’t always work or if the climax goes over the top. Action fans are likely to enjoy it in any case.
2 Guns was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 19th. The Blu-ray edition contains a solid high definition transfer and a good set of extras. The Blu-ray packaging includes the DVD edition,and instructions for obtaining a digital or Ultraviolet copy of the movie.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
2 Guns is presented in a 2.40:1 1080p AVC encode (@ an average 34 mbps) that looks great. At least some of the movie was actually shot on film, and nearly the whole enterprise has a pleasing, non-digital look to it. There’s a wide array of landscapes, textures and flesh tones to capture here, and the transfer gets them all. Details like the fabric and patterns of the terrible shirts Washinton wears here really pop off the screen, as they were clearly meant to do. The big climax is the one place where the digital effects do seem to pop a little – just because they were clearly forced into CGI and it’s not hard to tell which shots have a lot of it. That’s not necessarily a problem with the transfer, but it’s one of the things that can knock the viewer out of the movie.
Audio Rating: 5/52 Guns gets an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix (@ an average 3.6 mbps, up to 4.3 mbps for the louder sequences), which fills the home theater in an effective way. The subwoofer gets a workout here, as one might expect with all the explosions and gunplay. The surrounds get attention not only for music but for plenty of atmospheric effects. The Blu-ray also holds French and Spanish 5.1 DTS mixes, as well as an English DVS 2.0 track.
Special Features: 3.5/52 Guns includes a good array of special features, including a commentary, some deleted material and a making-of featurette. The Blu-ray packaging includes the DVD edition as well as instructions for obtaining a digital or Ultraviolet copy. I note that the DVD does not include all of the featurette material available on the Blu-ray.
Feature Commentary with Director Baltasar Kormakur and Producer Adam Siegel (AVAILABLE ON BOTH BLU-RAY AND DVD) – A scene-specific commentary is provided with Baltasar Kormakur and Adam Siegel. There’s a lot of information here, but much of it is prodded out of Kormakur by Siegel. They’re clearly happy with the movie, but there’s also a bit of residual tension over some choices made along the way…
Deleted & Extended Scenes (11:50 Total, 1080p) (AVAILABLE ON BOTH BLU-RAY AND DVD) – Here we have 8 bits of deleted or extended material, almost completely from the very early parts of the movie. There’s nothing truly spectacular here, but there is one nice bit of work between Edward James Olmos and Denzel Washington that’s at least fun to see. The scenes can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” function.
Click, Click, Bang Bang!: The Making of 2 Guns (30:18, 1080p) (MOSTLY EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a four-part assembly of featurettes, detailing the assembly of the movie and including a generous amount of interview material with the cast and creative staff. The first featurette, “Undercover & Into Action”, gives the background of how the graphic novels were adapted into a screenplay and how the cast was assembled. “The Good, The Bad and the Sexy” gets more into the casting, particularly in discussions with Edward James Olmos and Bill Paxton, as well as Paula Patton. “Finding the Vibe” goes into the design work of the art and wardrobe departments. “Living Dangerously” gets into the stunt work and the bigger bangs of the movie. The featurettes can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” function.
DVD Edition – Included in the Blu-ray packaging is the DVD edition of this movie. It presents the movie in standard definition anamorphic widescreen with a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix (@ 448 kbps). The Spanish and French tracks are also in DD 5.1, and the English DVS track is included. For extras, the DVD carries the commentary and the deleted material. When it comes to the featurettes, the only one included is “Undercover & Into Action”, clocking in at 6:04, meaning that the DVD viewer is only getting 1/5 of the complete making-of material.
Digital/Ultraviolet Copy – The packaging has an insert that contains instructions for downloading a digital or ultraviolet copy of the movie. The other side of the insert is an advertisement for various other Universal action movies available on Blu-ray.
The movie and special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish. The usual pop-up menu is present, including a complete chapter menu.