A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 2 Guns is an action comedy starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg that has plenty of strong language, violence, and sex. The violence includes up-close executions, torture, and the death of a female hostage. Two sex scenes aren't overly explicit but do show a topless woman -- mostly talking and kissing a shirtless man -- for quite a while. Language includes many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch." The U.S. government's agencies -- like the DEA and the CIA -- are shown to be just as corrupt as the Mexican drug dealers they keep in check. Ultimately, this is a buddy film about two skilled men seeking justice and blowing things up in the process.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Bobby (Denzel Washington) and Stig (Mark Wahlberg) are jack-of-all-trades partners in crime on the Texas/Mexico border -- brokering drug deals with cocaine kingpin Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) and planning a bank robbery. What they don't know is that each is acting undercover: Bobby is actually a DEA agent, and Stig is a former NCIS petty officer. When they rob the bank where Papi has $3 million stashed, they wind up with $43 million in cash -- all belonging to a mysterious villain in a cowboy hat (Bill Pullman), who has no problem killing anyone to get his money back. As true allegiances are revealed, Bobby and Stig realize they have no choice but to trust each other and work together to bring down the bad guys.
Is it any good?
Kormákur knows how to direct an '80s-style buddy action comedy full of bullets and explosions, and were the screenplay tighter, this could have kicked off a franchise in the vein of Lethal Weapon. Washington and Wahlberg are masters of the odd-couple buddy cliché at this point in their careers, and the movie is the most watchable when they're riffing off of each other: Washington's Bobby is a stubborn one-man island who doesn't love anyone more than his job, and Wahlberg's Stig is an optimistic hothead who winks at waitresses and takes loyalty seriously.
The comedy parts of the story work well; one of the funniest jokes in the movie is when Stig tells Olmos' Papi that he looks "like the Mexican Albert Einstein." But the action plot gets a bit bogged down in all the twists and stereotypes: the double-crossing supervisor, the jilted ex-girlfriend, the climactic Mexican standoff. Still, despite its predictability, 2 GUNS is fun to watch because of its talented stars, who look like they're having the time of their lives, even when they're covered in blood and dirt. Far from perfect, the movie is still an entertaining piece of popcorn fare.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about 2 Guns' various forms of violence. What's the impact of both the gun violence/explosions and the scenes of Russian Roulette and the baseball bat torture? Do you think the filmmakers could have told the story with less violence?
Members of the military and various U.S. agencies are revealed to be not only corrupt but also helping the drug trade. Is this a believable idea? Why does the admiral tell Stig that blind loyalty isn't a good thing?
Some critics have bemoaned the fact that both Washington and Wahlberg waste their talent doing formulaic buddy films. What kind of roles would you prefer they take? Which of their movies are your favorites?
- In theaters: August 2, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: November 19, 2013
- Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton
- Director: Baltasar Kormakur
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence throughout, language and brief nudity
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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