Flaming money falling from a helicopter: thoughts and feelings on movies like 2 Guns

Tuesday April 2nd 2013

You know when you spend a fair bit of time with someone and you start to realise that they’ve got quite a lot more money than you have? Not because they flaunt it necessarily, but because they’re generally just less concerned about their finances. They might get ten or twenty quid more out of the cash machine than you do, or suggest jumping in a cab when there’s a perfectly serviceable bus route running right from Warren Street to the Holloway Road. Maybe they buy organic fruit, or ‘premium’ HDMI cables.

That’s how I imagine it must be to be a Hollywood actor. Your quality of life might shift so gradually that you barely notice it happening, but one day you wake up and own-brand deodorant simply doesn’t seem good enough any more. Which is presumably how movies like 2 Guns come about.

Despite a poster that makes it look like a particularly ropey off-cut from the Netflix streaming catalogue (Money! On fire! Falling from a helicopter!) 2 Guns is in fact a real $90 million motion picture, produced by a handful of Los Angeles production companies and directed by Contraband‘s Baltasar Kormákur. It’s out this summer and pairs perennial straight-man Mark Wahlberg with laugh-riot Denzel Washington for a sort of lightly comedic Departed take-off.

Here’s a trailer:

Take the segment from 0:14 to 0:20 in which Denzel and Wahlberg ad-lib banter in response to the line ‘never rob a bank across from a diner that has the best donuts in three counties’. Note the apparently genuine smiles on the pair’s faces as they trade improvised lines that tell us nothing about anything and contain none of the traditional hallmarks of comedy. It’s these smiles that are supposed to pull us through the proceedings, convincing us that an admittedly tired-looking Paula Patton would entertain their bullshit, and that Wahlberg really felt it was important for his character to be chewing gum at 1:54.

It’s these smiles that hope to assuage any fears you might have that the film has been made in a matter of weeks, with a third of its budget going straight into the pockets of its two A-list leads. It’s these smiles that make me worry for the scenes without smiles.

I wouldn’t presume to write off 2 Guns (2Guns?) before I’ve seen it, but I will say that I’ve seen enough of these kind of films (and I’m mainly talking about 12 Rounds with John Cena here) to suspect that Denzel and Wahlberg might not be own-brand deodorant guys any more. And that at least warrants trepidation.