Remember when action film plots had to make some sense? It seems a long time ago, I know, but once upon a time little things like story coherence and plot believability mattered. Writers and directors knew when things would not pass the smell test and tried to limit the unlikely or ridiculous story twists. “No one will buy it” was actually considered to be a criticism.
2 Guns is a very exciting movie, with lots of fine action set pieces, chase sequences, deadly stunts, interesting set pieces and a series of plot twists and turns that could leave you breathless. It has fine actors, smart, quick pacing, clever quips, male bonding and an impressive death rate (at least for supporting characters and dozens of extras).
And yet, there wasn’t a single second when I was watching that I didn’t feel that the story was complete and utter contrived bullshit. It could never, ever happen this way.
Which, for whatever reason, does not make 2 Guns unique anymore in Hollywood. And if you surrender yourself to the movie’s fractured logic, it is a rather fun experience.
However, we are now in a movie atmosphere where heroes can’t be killed, or even particularly injured, despite going through impossible mayhem like devastating car crashes, being rained on by thousands of rounds of machine gun ammo, being tortured, being hunted by gangsters, corrupt feds and corrupt military officers, being shot and left for dead in the desert, etc., etc., etc.
And I’ll let you action scribes in on a little secret: it’s damn hard to build up and suspense or even any interest in films in which the leads are pretty much guaranteed to escape all forms of harm. There is also the sad problem that all of the characters here are pretty two dimensional. They have little quirks, but no real inner depth, no real souls. If they are in no real danger or there is no feeling for the characters, well then who really cares?
Character does not drive story in this world: this is all about story driving the story at at least 120 MPH. It’s a good way to wrap the whole vehicle around a tree.
This sea change into utter fantasy in action films is not 2 Guns‘ fault. It was happening long before 2 Guns was made and will continue long afterwards. However, 2 Guns just happened to resurrect this notion in me: it feels like a movie made up by committee, or maybe one of those story-plotting computer programs. In fairness, it was apparently based on a graphic novel. But that doesn’t mean that it has to feel cartoonish. There was not a single thing that felt real, believable or human to me in the entire film.