2 GUNS (2013)

August 3, 2013

2 guns1 Greetings again from the darkness. The bar has been set with buddy flicks that mix comedy and action … Lethal Weapon and 48 Hours. The vast majority, including this one, fall short even while blatantly copying many elements from those classics. Guns blazing, rapid-fire repartee and huge explosions are requirements in this genre, as is an on screen bond between the two leads.

The good news is that instead of the original (tired) pairing of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, we get Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. Denzel plays the straight man role just fine, but Wahlberg is way over the top. He is in his typical strained-too loud-frenzied talking mode that just comes across as trying too hard. Instead of a truckin’ t-shirt, he should have worn one that said ‘kiss me I’m cute and funny’.

2 guns3 For some reason, most of these movies make the vital mistake of not providing a fully developed and menacing villain. Somehow the script manages to waste the great Edward James Olmos as a drug lord. He does what he can with what he’s given, but it’s frustrating to see him become the punchline of lame joke. Bill Paxton seems to be the only one who was given much to work with in the script and he chews the scenery every chance he gets. We also get a quick scene with Fred Ward and I think we would all rather have more from him here and less from the generic James Marsden. Of course, all of these movies require the presence of a female and in this case we get Paula Patton, who 2 guns2not only suffers through horrific dialogue, but also some absurd gratuitous nudity.

As you might guess from the trailer, corruption and double-crosses abound, and the Denzel/Wahlberg duo produces a few sparks, but this script based on the Boom! graphic novel just doesn’t hold up for a feature length movie. Icelandic director Baltasar Kurmakur, whose previous outing was the ultra-serious action drama Contraband (also with Wahlberg) falls victim to the weak dialogue and inconsistent villainy.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you fall for Wahlberg’s “charms” OR your preferences leans towards Tango and Cash style

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF:  a juicy villain and smart dialogue is a requirement for your enjoyment of action-comedies

watch the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVNe3RK2fgI

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THE GREEN HORNET

January 16, 2011

 Greetings again from the darkness. There was much uproar when Tim Burton rolled out his 1989 feature length BATMAN film. He took the campy TV series, turned it inside-out, and created a dark brooding Batman … more in-line with the tone of the comics. In a near polar opposite move, writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg took the dead-pan humor and straight-laced characters of the Green Hornet TV series and have delivered a slacker version for their Gen Y fans.

Being a fan of the mid-60’s TV series, but too young to have experienced The Green Hornet radio series which ran from the 1930’s through the 1950’s, I will readily admit that I am not a fan of Mr. Rogen’s re imagined Hornet. However, I will also admit that Kato-vision and the new Black Beauty are very cool. And Jay Chou as Kato works very well. He exudes cool and brilliance and an understanding of his role.

 Where this film fails miserably is every time Seth Rogen utters a line of dialogue. Yes, EVERY SINGLE TIME. The film has no chance to build momentum through action or bad guy story line despite the presence of Christoph Waltz. Rogin slobbers through another line of dialogue and it’s like the air brakes on a semi locking up on icy roads. It’s just brings the flow to a standstill.

Besides Chou and Waltz, who are both very good, other supporting work is provided by Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson, Edward James Olmos and Edward Furlong. Diaz, Olmos and Furlong have little to do and Mr. Wilkinson was the perfect choice as Britt Reid’s dad … if only Britt Reid weren’t Seth Rogen! While adaptation can be a good thing, I doubt creator George Trendle had this in mind when he wrote the original Green Hornet character as the great nephew to the Lone Ranger. Rogen seems to think the Green Hornet is a spin-off of PINEAPPLE EXPRESS.

I am going very easy on director Michel Gondry because it appears he did all he could visually, while making do with a weak script and a lame lead actor.  Mr. Gondry has directed such feasts as ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND and BE KIND REWIND, so he gets credit for the good parts of this one. 

If you see this film in 3-D, you can play with the glasses and easily identify which scenes were filmed that way and which weren’t. I would encourage you to only use the glasses when necessary, because the colors are definitely muted through the lenses.

My final complaint is the minimal use of the iconic Green Hornet theme song (Flight of the Bumble Bee) made famous by the great Al Hirt (link below). We get only a taste of it in the final scene. So, realizing I sound like an old geezer, I will say that I enjoyed Kato, Black Beauty and the action scenes, but desperately miss Bruce Lee, Van Williams and the uber-coolness of the original.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you have little or no experience with the TV series or the comic book line OR you believe Seth Rogen is a comedy genius.

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you are dedicated Green Hornet purist OR you suspect that Seth Rogen and Pauly Shore are related.