Friday, December 13, 2013
If you've ever been to Baltasar Kormakur's fictional Tres Cruces, Texas, you'll know how true this is, and you will probably have missed the best doughnuts in the whole state -- not the best movie, just the best doughnuts.
The tiny coffee shop in this one-dog, one-chicken, two-cop town glows brightly in the center of this film. It gives a lovely light, but doesn't last long.
There are two guns here. One belongs to Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington), the other to Michael "Stig" Stigman (Mark Wahlberg). We meet them in this coffee shop, where they sit and banter endlessly while keeping an eye on the bank across the street. Okay, it's a bank robber/buddy movie. No, it ain't. Yes, it is. No, it ain't.
Yes, they're fixing to rob the bank, but not for the reasons Bonnie and Clyde or John Dillinger did. Both know something the other doesn't. A perfect marriage.
Actually, Bobby and Stig are kind of Bonnie and Clyde-ish in a Crosby and Hope sort of way. They seem to have been together a very long time, maybe since high school. Whatever Stig orders for breakfast, Bobby changes it. Then Stig re-changes it. No French toast, no pancakes, no cream in the coffee.
I suspect that Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur and writer Blake Masters want us to find them charming. Charm is not in their DNA.
We find them amusing and likeable because, like Bobby and Stig, we've all been together a very long time and we've seen so many Denzel and Mark movies that we know all of their moves. One does stoic, the other does bluster. We've seen Denzel kill boatloads of bad guys and a few good ones. We've seen Mark do the same with one notable exception, when he played a porn star in "Boogie Nights."
This is called the Jimmy Cagney/Humphrey Bogart curse. You know what you're going to get. It's all the same.
Mark, a pleasant enough actor, whom we know by now is, with the exception of his "The Fighter," incapable of surprising us. Denzel, the far better actor of the two, has mastered his tricks but he comforts us like a favorite blanket.
But we're not here polishing Oscars. We're here because it won't stop raining, and we want to see some blood splattered in our popcorn. "2 Guns" doesn't let us down.
Only moments before, we were in the digs of a big cattle-dealing, drug king -- Papi Greco (the very wonderful Edward James Olmos.) Bobby had come to pick up some cocaine, but the deal didn't work out.
So our boys go back to Tres Cruces and rob the bank, hoping to raise enough cash for a better drug deal. Instead, the vault of this tiny, dusty, long-forgotten town holds $48 million in small bills. Oh, those frugal Mexican farmers -- who would have guessed?
Before long, after hauling a truckload of the cash away, a buddy fist fight in the desert ensues and we -- and they -- discover the secret of Bonnie and Clyde: Bobby is an undercover DEA agent and Stig is undercover for navy intelligence. Neither were hip. Make some notes now, it gets even more confusing.
Soon, Bobby's boss, DEA chief, the very hot Deb (Paula Patton) and Stig's boss, Quince (James Marsden) are involved, and no one knows what all of the cash was doing in that little bank. Would you guess that the CIA is involved? You win.
Enter the CIA's little Earl (Bill Paxton with a snarl). Earl is known as "God's S.O.B." Earl wears J.C. Penney jackets and Walmart straw hats, but he carries a really big gun and a couple of black-suited gunnies with him. This Bill Paxton IS a surprise, and he's wonderful.
It's now no surprise that the little mom-and-pop savings and loan depot was a cash drawer for the CIA.
The CIA, the cops, the DEA and the navy guy all seem to have an interest in all that cash our boys took away with them. Yes, here comes the blood for our popcorn.
There will be a daring, totally ridiculous, completely impossible two-man raid on a fully armed navy base. There will be revenge from the nasty Mexican drug lord. There will be a little sex and lots of gunplay. That said, it's kind of fun.
There will be two mysteries: Who was dumb enough to put all that money in a tiny, two-cop town, and who was dumb enough to put millions more in this movie?
Come to think of it, this would have been a really great Hope-Crosby movie.
"The Road to Tres Cruces."
J.P. Devine is a former stage and screen actor.