August isn't typically the strongest month for summer movies. In the past, it was a time for studios to burn off films that felt like tentpoles, but maybe weren't up to snuff to be included in the main race. However, little by little, the luster is returning to August, and "2 Guns" is a prime example of that.
"2 Guns" tells the story of a pair of mismatched thieves, played by Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, who inadvertently steal tens of millions of dollars from some very bad dudes. They've then got to team up and outrun some Mexican drug dealers and very scary government types, all while piecing together the mystery of who set them up (and why).
It's not exactly a future Oscar contender, but then again, what big movies this summer were? Below, we run down 10 things you should know about "2 Guns" and whether it can hold its own against the potential August doldrums.
1. It's a Dadcore Extravaganza
What is dadcore, you ask? Well, it's a made-up word used to describe a particular type of film that is (sort of) hardcore and appeals to dads. Great examples of this would be "The Expendables" movies, "Safe House," and, to a lesser degree, "Wild Hogs." But "2 Guns" takes dadcore to a whole new arena, pairing Denzel Washington with Mark Wahlberg, in a story full of topless ladies, explosions, double crosses, and suitcases full of money. It's like a weathered paperback novel that has come (violently) to life -- and it's pretty awesome.
2. Wahlberg and Denzel Are a Surprisingly Amazing Duo
If you had told me that these two would be one of the best live wire/grumpy jerk duos since Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in "48 Hours," I probably would have told you that you were insane. But as it turns out, they really are wonderful together. Wahlberg lays on the charming frat guy thing so thick that you can't help but get drawn in, and Denzel channels his trademark stoicism while still having fun with the role (he's got fake gold teeth that wouldn't look out of place on Jack Sparrow).
3. The Movie Fails the Bechdel Test
For those playing at home, the Bechdel Test is a test to see if a movie is actually interested in presenting three-dimensional female characters. To pass, the film has to have more than two main women who have conversations that aren't exclusively centered around men. Unfortunately, there's exactly one woman in "2 Guns" (who isn't an extra): a DEA Agent (Paula Patton) with an affinity for fringy leather jackets. And while she is a "strong" woman, she also takes her top off, has questionable motives, and doesn't get to talk to another woman, because in the part of Texas where this movie takes place, there, uh, are no other women?
4. It's Kind of a Western
One of the best aspects of "2 Guns" is how much of a Western it is. The two main characters are definitely cowboys (or desperados), the movie is set in the dusty stretch of earth where Texas meets Mexico, everyone has a Tennessee Williams-worthy southern accent (to varying degrees of success), and towards the end of the movie there's a Mexican standoff and a stampede. See also: Paula Patton's fringy leather jacket.
5. Bill Paxton Has Officially Achieved National Treasure Status
We haven't seen a lot of Bill Paxton lately. He played a Tom Clancy-style author in Steven Soderbergh's under-seen gem "Haywire" and showed up in the popular television miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys," but it's been a while since we've had a gonzo, go-for-broke Paxton performance. Thankfully, the wait for that particular slice of over-the-top wonderfulness has ended with "2 Guns." Here he plays a villain who has a penchant for playing Russian roulette and talking about people's genitalia. Paxton totally steals the movie, loading it into the back of an unmarked van and taking it deep into the desert. He is funny and scary and so, so weird. Note to everyone else making movies in Hollywood: hire Bill Paxton more.
6. There Are Tons of Terrific, Small Supporting Performances
Edward James Olmos shows up as a Mexican kingpin, James Marsden plays a morally nebulous Navy Intelligence official (shaved head and all), and Fred Ward (FRED WARD) shows up as a high-ranking Navy official. These might be tiny performances but they give the movie even more color and they make journalists who love these actors write down "FRED WARD" in their notebook and then double underline "FRED WARD" because they're so damn excited to see "FRED WARD" in a movie (what was the last movie he was really in? "Armored?" I love "Armored").
7. The Film's Two Stars Aren't Together Enough
Wahlberg and Washington's chemistry is so good that the part of the film they're not in together seems to drag on and on. They're with each other at the beginning of the movie, then they split apart, and then it takes them way too long to team back up again. Just let them do the movie (or every movie) together!
8. The Movie Isn't as Macho as You Think It Is
Maybe it's due to the lack of female characters, but for a movie that practically sweats testosterone out of its pores, "2 Guns" features a lot of bro love. There's one moment when Washington and Wahlberg are wrestling around in the desert where they finally just hold each other. For one pause, you get the impression that they might, in fact, kiss, rivaling this summer's other most unintentionally homoerotic macho man movie, "Fast and the Furious 6."
9. Denzel Has a Goatee in This
You should just know going into it that it's there. I don't want the shock to be too jarring.
10. It's Very R-Rated
The summer movie season is populated by animated trifles and superhero romps, and almost nothing is rated R. "2 Guns," by comparison, is very R. The F-word is uttered constantly, and there are tons of bloody shootings and nudity. "2 Guns" is probably going to make a lot of money, which will hopefully show the studios that there's still a market for adult action films.