It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
With "2 Guns," Universal Pictures has taken box office pleading to a new level: The desired opening weekend gross is written directly into the script. With a budget around $80 million, "2 Guns" etches into your subconscious mind a little more than half that amount, brainwashing you into telling your friends to donate their ticket money. This sounds far-fetched until you count the number of times someone says the perceived target number, $43.125 million. Say it with me: "Forty-three point one-two-five million dollars." Marvel at the memorable unwieldiness of the phrase. This amount drives the plot, is a concern for every character, and is uttered around 43.125 million times. Each main actor gets multiple chances to say it with his or her personal spin. Bill Paxton has the most fun with it; his slow, staccato mentions sound like a Hemingway sentence read aloud.
If you remember nothing else about 2 Guns, you'll remember the exact amount that gets most of its cast killed. The money appears onscreen as an enormous, gasp-inducing pile of cash. Director Baltasar Kormákur and cinematographer Oliver Wood always shoot it from above, usually with someone in frame as a visual counterpoint. It would take 43.125 million rap videos set in strip clubs to match the fetishistic glee with which this money is presented, especially in the film's climax.
Money corrupts, and everyone in "2 Guns" is afflicted: The drug cartel leader, the cops, the DEA, the CIA, and the Navy all get dumped into the same bottomless pit of deceit. Double-crosses abound, starting with those of our protagonists Bobby (Denzel Washington) and Stig (Mark Wahlberg). They plan to rob a bank across the street from a diner with "the best donuts in 3 counties." Neither is aware that the other is on the right side of the law—Bobby's DEA and Stig is with the Navy. The duo, who have been operating together over two years, plan to frame each other as a means to the same end: the capture of drug lord Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos). The targeted bank supposedly contains Greco's drug money in safe deposit boxes.
I was surprised how long the film keeps us in the dark on the intentions of Bobby and Stig. The commercials and the trailer reveal their identities immediately. After the robbery, and the discovery of far more money than anticipated, Stig shoots Bobby when the latter reveals his true identity. Stig is repaid for his Naval loyalty by the murderous intent of his superior officers Quince (James Marsden) and Jessup (Robert John Burke). These and other familiar plot devices lead to the reteaming of Bobby and Stig. Mucho macho mayhem ensues.