Film critics keep telling us that the modern movie industry is in a creative death spiral of remakes, reboots, and sequels. Hollywood’s in a rut and there’s nothing new anymore, apparently. But do we really go to the movies for something new and unique every single time? Is that even possible? Authors, after all, only have three, seven, 20, 36, or one basic plot to choose from, depending on whose English class you fell asleep in. Let me put it another way: if you have a favorite sandwich at the corner deli, do you feel bad about ordering it again? Of course not!
Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur’s movie 2 Guns only received lukewarm critical reviews, but absolutely raked it in at the box office, with a $27 million opening weekend. While 2 Guns retraces a lot of action movie ground with its themes of undercover cops gone too deep, double and triple crosses, corruption, and the drug trade, it does so with a level of craft and attention to detail that’s far beyond what you’d expect. The verbal sparring between Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg is excellent and engaging, the villains are truly menacing, the plot moves along snappily, the film is flawlessly shot, the audio work is outstanding, and most importantly for the readers of this magazine, the gunfights are thrilling, feel authentic, and the selection of firearms used in the movie is at once sensible and unique. The film’s armorer noted that fifty-five different firearms firing almost ten thousand rounds were used in production, and it shows.
2 Guns isn’t exactly Oscar-worthy haute cuisine, it’s more like Mom’s home-cookin’. You might have had it a dozen times before, but you still enjoy every bite. For fans of gun cinema, 2 Guns is a thick slab of juicy meatloaf with a side of whipped potatoes and gravy, and some blackberry cobbler for dessert. Do you love comfort food? Me too, let’s dig in.
The movie’s first big action sequence involves a well-planned and executed bank heist, where our heroes make off with a truck full of what they believe is drug money. Denzel Washington, playing DEA agent Robert “Bobby” Trench, is first seen with a Smith & Wesson 4506 pistol. The stainless Third Generation Smith & Wesson automatic was popular with a number of law enforcement agencies and continues to be issued by the LAPD on request. An old-school, double-action, all-steel automatic is exactly what you’d expect a veteran cop to carry.
In contrast to the cool and collected Trench, undercover Naval Intelligence Officer Michael Stigman, played by Mark Wahlberg, affects a cocky and young arrogance. Stigman is immediately portrayed as an expert shot with a pistol, pulling off a feat of marksmanship against some chickens while fanning a chromed Single Action Army clone. Appropriately, he carries a Kimber Warrior 1911, definitely an enthusiast’s choice. Born from the Marine Corps SOCOM contract competition, the Warrior features an accessory rail on the dust cover and omits the firing pin block and full-length recoil spring guide rod found on other Kimber Series II models.
Two Ruger revolvers have starring roles. After being left for dead in the desert, Trench relieves a freelance border patrolman of his Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum revolver. A heavy-duty double-action design, the Redhawk has a reputation of both improved strength and lower cost compared to its Smith & Wesson competition. We also see a Ruger SP101 repeatedly used during interrogation by Earl, the ruthless CIA agent, intensely played with a flawless Southern accent by Bill Paxton. A small 5-shot .38 Special revolver, the SP101 has enjoyed much success as a competitor to Smith & Wesson’s various J-frame revolvers.
In the climactic shootout, Trench and Stigman equip a SIG Sauer P226 and an H&K HK45C respectively. The product of a stillborn Pentagon project to replace the US military’s various handguns, the HK45 was developed from the USP series with the guidance of legendary shooters and instructors Larry Vickers and Ken Hackathorn. While not adopted by the military, the HK45 and its variants enjoyed good success in the police and civilian market. Trench’s P226 is unique in that it is finished in SIG’s short-lived electroless nickel finish, which was offered as a more corrosion-resistant alternative to the then traditional blued or carbonized finishes.
More SIG Sauer P226s are also featured in the use of rogue Naval Intelligence Officer Harold Quince’s henchmen. Observed in the movie both with threaded barrels and suppressors, the Mk25 variant is an authentic choice as it is currently an issued sidearm to SEALs. The Mk25 also features a Picatinny accessory rail and special anti-corrosion treatment to the internal components.
Stigman also selects a SIG early on in the movie, an SG556 DMR precision rifle, complete with bipod, laser, and mil-dot scope. Derived from the Swiss Army 550 series, the 556 was modified for the US market to use AR-15 magazines and furniture, as Stigman’s rifle is fitted with a Magpul PRS adjustable stock.
It just wouldn’t be an action movie without H&K MP5 9mm submachine guns, and when Quince’s men show up to Stigman’s apartment, they are equipped with MP5K-PDWs, identifiable by their triangle side-folding stock and a fixed vertical foregrip. Later on, Quince’s henchmen are seen with more H&Ks, this time the HK416 10” carbine. Developed by mating the G36’s short-stroke gas piston with the AR-15 platform, the HK416 was instantly popular with special forces and SWAT teams across the globe. Made famous as the gun that killed Osama Bin Laden, the HK416 seems destined for years of Hollywood fame.
Speaking of unique AR variants, make sure you take a good look at the ARs used by Earl’s bodyguards in the final shootout. Not content with vanilla M4s or cobbled-together prop guns, the film’s armorer went all out and sourced Noveske Rifleworks N4 Diplomats for the movie. Developed for the needs of overseas VIP protection in war zones, the N4 is a natural choice for the shady private military company customer. The N4s are immediately identifiable by their 10” barrel, Vltor stocks, unique Noveske “Firepig” flash suppressor, and Surefire M900 weapon light and foregrip combination. While seen in Noveske’s promotional material with Aimpoint red dot scopes, Earl’s men seem to prefer the EOTech holographic sight.
Other action movie staples are issued M16A2s, Beretta M9s, and M4A1 carbines seen in the hands of sailors guarding the Naval Air Station where Stigman and Trench go to confront Quince. Love interest and DEA agent Deb Rees (the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Paula Patton) carries and shoots a correct DEA-issue Glock 23.
Edward James Olmos turns in a terrific performance as drug kingpin Papi Greco, and naturally, he favors a chromed Taurus PT92FS automatic with pearl grips. His henchmen are equipped with the traditional weapon of disposable movie bad guys: AK variants, including fixed stocks and underfolders. In a deleted scene that really ought to have made the cut, Greco and his underlings go to threaten Trench, armed with a two-toned SIG Sauer P229, a Ruger KP95, and a phone book.
Two heavy weapons are seen in the final shootout, an RPG-7 rocket launcher that Quince uses to open the festivities, and an FN M240D 7.62 NATO belt-fed machine gun that Earl’s men fire from a helicopter.
2 Guns wraps up leaving the door wide open for a sequel, but so far there’s been no official word from either the studio or the principals. It would be a shame to not revisit the electric chemistry between Wahlberg and Washington, but even if we don’t get a second helping of Kormákur’s meatloaf, 2 Guns has helped to raise the standards of cinematic gunplay. When even a mid-budget summer popcorn muncher brings this level of detail, attention, and authenticity to both its firearms and how they are used, I believe we are in a golden age of gunfight movies.
By Peter Barrett. Originally published in the January 2014 issue of GunUp the Magazine.