Over the last decade, film adaptations of comic books have become more and more prevalent in popular culture. There are, of course, the superhero films like “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” — but there’s a whole other side of comics beyond the brightly-colored costumed set. Director Baltasar Kormakur’s “2 Guns,” hitting theaters August 2, is part of the latter set.
Based on the BOOM! Studios series of the same name, created and written by Steven Grant with art by Mateus Santoluoco, the film casts Denzel Washington as DEA agent Bobby Trench and Mark Wahlberg as CIA agent Marcus Stigman, two undercover agents forced to work together in order to refund $43 million dollars that they’ve accidentally stolen from the CIA.
“It was actually a pretty seamless process,” Masters said of translating the comic to the big screen. “Adam Siegal, one of the producers, said to me after I handed in the script, ‘I didn’t think the plot worked this well when I saw the graphic novel.’ And I was like ‘No, it works great! It’s perfect.’ It was like somebody gave me a lattice on which to just decorate.”
On the surface, “2 Guns” is an action movie with a sense of humor. However, director Baltasar KormÃ¡kur hopes the film goes beyond that and provides a truly unique experience for audiences.
“I thought this is a great opportunity to do something that has liveness to it. That has character and is not just guns and explosions,” KormÃ¡kur said. “It was about finding the tone and those two guys and then, of course, cast around [them] the right people that will compliment and challenge them.”
“Usually, they’ll take the comedy guy and the very straight guy and put them together. We didn’t want to do that,” Wahlberg said. “We felt like we had to have two really formidable opponents and to earn that trust in one another. So once I heard Denzel was interested, I was like ‘Great. We got a movie.’ And it was the best possible version of that movie, in my eyes.”
“For Mark and Denzel, there’s an absolute code,” Masters said of the actors’ on-screen personas. “There’s what you do and what you don’t do, and Denzel’s code is, you do whatever it takes. It’s the conflict of those two codes that creates one: drama; and two: humor.”
Wahlberg wasn’t alone when it came to falling in love with “2 Guns” script. Bill Paxton was immediately drawn to his character, a CIA hitman named Earl with a Louisiana accent almost as thick as his mustache.
“When I read the part, I thought, ‘Oh, my God,'” Paxton exclaimed. “I felt like a kid on Christmas Day, opening up a present that he’s been hoping to get for a long time. I think this is the part [Kormakur] would have liked to play. He’s a great actor, and I could tell he was living a little vicariously through me.”
Washington, known for his dramatic roles, has never anchored a comedy, so when he was presented with “2 Guns,” it was the screenplay’s humorous elements which made him decide to sign on.
“Coming off of ‘Flight,’ I was looking to do something to have more fun,” Washington said. “People have said to me for a long time, ‘Wow, you’re funny!’ I’m quick, but being funny on purpose, take after take, for me, it was new territory.”
The Oscar-winning actor’s adeptness at comedy didn’t go unnoticed by his castmates.
“He’s alright,” quipped Paxton. “I had always admired Denzel Washington. He’s not a BAD actor. I could see he was having a lot of fun with his part. I think it’s unfortunate that the world doesn’t get to see his funny side, but he’s a great comedic actor.”
In fact, comedy played a large role in crafting the film — in the script, acting and direction, even if the direction included a healthy bit of improvisation.
“I’ve worked with Baltasar before, so he was comfortable with me doing my thing,” Wahlberg said. “Improvisation can always make the scene better as long as it pertains to the moment in the movie. Sometimes [Denzel] would look at me and go ‘Did you really just say that?'”
“It’s about finding how you can twist things and make them more interesting in cast and approach,” KormÃ¡kur said. “For example, in the scene when [Paxton] is aiming at [Denzel’s] private parts in Russian roulette, just getting a smile out of Denzel there set the scene on fire because then you have the tone right. If it goes too dry and too heavy, it’s a different movie.”
Ultiamtely, however, no matter how funny the script may have been, the success of the film comes down to the the chemistry between Wahlberg and Washington, which is evident both on screen and in the press room.
“We went to Lamaze class together,” Washington joked of how close the two are.
“I’ve always admired him,” Wahlberg said of his co-star. “We’ve got a lot in common; we both have four kids. I was able to ask him for advice. You know, pick his brain personally and professionally.”
“We’re neighbors,” Washington added. “I think for me, I have less experience with [comedy]. That’s why I wanted to go out there with somebody that I know knew that territory better than I do.”
While the humorous aspect of the film is certainly one of its more attractive draws, there are also dramatic portions of the film, dense with underlying commentary on political issues, such as illegal immigration.
“There’s this whole thing with Edward James Olmos’ character saying, ‘You’re gonna have to go over like my people have to go over; with the coyotes.'” Wahlberg said. “That sequence was kind of sad for us. We didn’t understand what it’s like for people to try to get over the border coming to America.”
Whether it’s the unique plot and concept of “2 Guns,” its combination of humor and drama or the chemistry of the cast, one thing is crystal clear: The creative talent involved really believes in the finished film.
“I think the audiences are going to have fun watching it,” Paxton stated. “I mean, people get hurt, people die in the film — of course that’s not very amusing. But it’s in the spirit of a great ’70s film, I think.”
“2 Guns” hits theaters Friday, August 2.
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