You may not have heard of a book called “Save the Cat,” but every hack in Hollywood has.
It’s an idiot-proof cookbook for creating a potboiler, with each plot point in the commercial-movie formula measured in microseconds. The buddy-cop comedy “2 Guns” might not be the most noxious crumb to fall off the assembly line, but this bad boy has exceeded its expiration date by a lot more than 48 hours.
Savvy filmgoers will know they are getting a stale product as soon as they see the wrapper: one of those vintage muscle cars that screams “stakeout.” In it is the salt-and-pepper combo of hothead Stig (Mark Wahlberg) and cool cat Bobby (Denzel Washington). They’re casing a bank in a Texas border town, yet they’ve got the time and cojones to flirt with a waitress before torching her diner as a distraction. Then these charmers rob the bank and make off with millions.
The recipe requires a twist, and here the gimmick is that DEA agent Bobby and Naval Intelligence operative Stig don’t know that the other guy is a cop too. They both think they’re rolling with a representative of Mexican drug lord Papi (Edward James Olmos). But then hidden corrupters shoot to kill, and the die-hard frenemies find themselves running scared from men in black.
The familiar ingredients include crooked feds (Bill Paxton and James Marsden), hot fuzz (Paula Patton), a head in a duffle bag (poor Little Tito) and implements of torture (Papi’s prized bull).
This extended game of “Where’s the Money?” might be fun to play if director Baltasar Kormákur (“Contraband”) knew how to roll the dice, but the action is as slow as rush hour in Beverly Hills. It’s only shocking at the end of watch, when lethal weapons are fired point blank at some wounded usual suspects.
With the combined heat of its stars, “2 Guns” should have had double impact, but Washington and Wahlberg are only doing this tango for cash.
What “2 Guns” • Two stars out of four • Rating R • Run time 1:49 • Content Violence, strong language and brief nudity