and Paul Chi
August 12, 2013 12:00 PM

2 Guns

Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton | R |

ACTION/COMEDY

In the moments between flirting with their waitress and burning down her diner, Bobby Trench (Washington) and Michael Stigman (Wahlberg) seem the best of friends. So it comes as quite a shock when they soon learn that they’re both working undercover for the government, ready to betray each other in an instant. That tension gives this film real bite, but it’s the stars who make it so much fun.

Ridiculous but never dumb, the often hilarious 2 Guns pairs Wahlberg and Washington as the crime-fighting duo we didn’t know we were waiting for. The two have easy chemistry, Trench’s wary street sense playing off Stigman’s irrepressible charm as they realize that their supposedly sanctioned operation to steal a few bills in drug money has left them holding a $43 million bag. Worse, some spooky cat named Earl (Paxton, relishing his villainy) wants that money back. To do the math, that means drug dealers, multiple federal agencies and one very nasty Earl are keenly interested in putting holes in our heroes. With that kind of heat – and a title like 2 Guns – you can bet that the film is bloody. But the violence is offset by buoyant humor and a swift tempo, not to mention some audacious stunts. So if you’re sick of superheroes but looking for a good time, head on over to the Guns show.

The Smurfs 2

Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Katy Perry | PG |

ANIMATION

“Time to Smurf some magic,” intones Papa as The Smurfs 2 begins. This latest entry in the summer onslaught of animation sequels would be happy just to Smurf up a ton of cash. To that end, a new species of shorties, the pigment-free Naughties, arrive to torment our blue heroes. The film relies too much on slapstick violence. Aren’t there ways to make woodland sprites funny other than bonking them on the head?

The Spectacular Now

Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Kyle Chandler | R |

DRAMA

Sutter Keely (Teller) is a high school senior with no plans beyond his next slug of whiskey. When his girlfriend dumps him, Sutter needs a new drinking buddy, so he latches on to good girl Aimee Finicky (Woodley), filling her cup with his bottomless charm. Now watches as the needy couple try to make a go of it, the actors subtle yet impassioned, giving performances that linger. Will Sutter drag Aimee down, or will she lift him up? The answer, it seems, is both.

The Wolverine

Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Tao Okamoto | PG-13 |

SCI-FI

If nothing else, The Wolverine proves how charismatic Jackman is. Because the star, far more than the stunts and the illogical script, is the reason to see this X-Men spinoff. Jackman’s muscular mutant Logan heads to Japan, where he says goodbye to dying friend Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), only to wind up in a bunch of cool fights protecting the man’s granddaughter Mariko (Okamoto) from gangsters. That’s tough to do once Logan loses his self-healing powers, but she’s so dull that it’s hard to care what happens to her. Plus, the film’s climax is so lacking in sense, I still don’t know what happened. Oh well. At least we have Hugh.

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