Navigation Bar - Text Links at Bottom of Page

2 GUNS

Attached at the Hip: 2 GUNS Is Developed
BOOM! Studios published the first issue of writer Steven Grant and artist MATEUS SANTOLOUCO's explosive five-issue miniseries, "2 Guns," in 2008. Grant told the intriguing tale of Bobby and Stig, two undercover agents who discover that the amount of cash locked in the bank vault that they are robbing is not remotely what they expected. When the two find themselves double-crossed by the very men who set them up to do the job, they must go on the run from the organizations they vowed to serve.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BOOM! Studios Ross Richie walks us through the source material: "It's a story about characters ground up by the system, set within the framework of government agencies that pursue their goals, no matter the consequences. Steven took the familiar noir trope of an undercover cop tale, and he deconstructed that. He also included lots of comedy and action to make it incredibly entertaining."

The series of graphic novels is written by a man with a curious take on this style of writing. "I like doing crime comics," admits Grant, who calls 2 Guns an "anti-buddy" story. "I don't actually believe in good and evil. From my perspective, people walk a line, fall on this side or that, and wobble back and forth. It's just a natural existence. I tend to view my material not as dramas, but as situational comedies where everybody in the story thinks they know what's going on, and actually nobody in it knows what's going on."

Producer Marc Platt, who has shepherded to the big screen action hits such as Wanted and Drive, was keen to develop the graphic novel series brought to him by his colleague, fellow 2 Guns producer Adam Siegel. Platt discusses his initial interest in the source material: "I always love stories where there are two characters who are seemingly very different, and the journey of the story is the way in which those two characters find their way to each other. Here were two guys who don't want to be in the same general vicinity of each other, but who are forced to work together and learn something about each other and themselves in the process."

Siegel recalls what drew him to the project, and the manner in which he worked with a talented screenwriter to flesh it out: "When I read Steven Grant's graphic novel, I was blown away by the great characters and the clear concept that these were two guys who were undercover from each other."

To develop the story into a film, Platt and Siegel found a writer who could turn this crime story series -- replete with much humor and multiple twists -- into a taut script.

Explains Siegel: "I was a big fan of Blake Masters' work on the television drama Brotherhood, which I thought had two great masculine roles: two people on both sides of the law. Blake sparked to the graphic novel immediately, especially the Butch & Sundance elements that he saw in them."

Fresh off of three seasons on an award-winning show, Masters jumped at the chance to work on fare that was a bit lighter. "2 Guns is twisted in its own way, but I instantly saw the spine of the story and the chance to create some great characters in this world that the graphic novel set up," he offers. "The characters and the humor of the movie are inextricably bound together. The humor is coming out of each character's worldview and the way in which those views clash. Everybody has their own code, and they can't believe everyone else doesn't share their code."

Platt was pleased with the direction in which Masters' script was headed, and he flew through a review of the initial treatment. The producer recalls: "I read the first draft of the screenplay on an airplane between Los Angeles and New York, and got to around page 80 just before landing. I shot off an e-mail from the plane to Adam that said, 'I love these first 80 pages, and if the last 40 are just as good, we're in!'"

Early on during the script's development, Mark Wahlberg expressed interest in joining 2 Guns. He came aboard as Navy Petty Officer Michael "Stig" Stigman, a fast-talking sharpshooter who is as awkwardly charming as he is cunning. For more than a decade, Stig has served the Navy honorably. But when he does six months in the brig after attacking a military police officer (MP), Stig is drafted into one of the Navy's shadier ops and officially considered AWOL. He can maneuver in the dark, and he's now dispensable if he decides to go off the Navy's playbook.

The actor describes what drew him to the role: "The story goes back to those great buddy action comedies that I've always been a huge fan of. Stig's that guy who just goes on impulse. Going into the bank heist, they've both been playing each other; neither has been completely honest about who they are or their motivations. Even though he's playing Bobby, and Bobby's playing him, Stig's still honest about how he feels. He's up for a good time, but if he gets rubbed the wrong way, he can go dark pretty quick."

Although their mission has them planning to steal approximately $3 million of drug kingpin Papi Greco's cash when we are introduced to the reluctant partners, Stig and Bobby get much more than they bargained for. When they open (read: blow up) the safety deposit boxes at Tres Cruces Savings & Loan, they discover more than $43 million -- money that will most definitely be missed when they go on the run.

Wahlberg brings us up to speed with the moment when it all goes to hell with the agent and the operative: "After the heist is over, unfortunately it's either Bobby or Stig, and Stig gets the upper hand. Stig doesn't want to kill Bobby because he's very fond of him, but he has a job to do. In the scuffle, Bobby's DEA badge drops and Stig is upset -- even though he's been double-crossing Bobby -- that Bobby had the nerve to double-cross him."

For his part, DEA agent Robert Trench is called many names. And depending upon the role you play in his world, you may know him as Agent Trench, Bobby B. or Bobby Beans. He's spent three years infiltrating Manny "Papi" Greco's Sonora, Mexico-based empire, and in the past 12 months, he's brought in Stig to work the job. Bobby's latest deal has him trading 500 American passports for cocaine, and Greco has come up with cash, not coke. As Bobby and Stig head back into the U.S. -- happy to still have their heads attached to their bodies -- they are hauled into custody. Both of their superiors are less than pleased they've come back empty-handed.

Masters expanded upon this rich world that Grant created and underscored that when you're in deep with a drug lord, your handlers are bound to wonder if you are on the take, or as Papi puts it, you "skim a little cream." After Bobby and Stig are questioned separately at immigration control, Bobby is given two more weeks before the DEA pulls the plug on his operation. Stig's plan of robbing the bank where the drug lord stashes his cash is looking like Bobby's best option for nabbing the criminal. Until they make the heist and realize they've actually stolen the CIA's money.

As the screenplay developed, producer Randall Emmett was sent the script by Wahlberg, with whom he collaborated on projects including Broken City and the upcoming Lone Survivor. Emmett was enthusiastic to come aboard and help finance the project starring his longtime friend. "The script was a page-turner for me; it had tight dialogue and skillfully balanced drama and comedy," recalls the producer, who is partnered with George Furla in the production company Emmett/ Furla Films. "Watching the relationship between the two characters evolve, I knew it was the kind of film audiences would welcome."

When it came time to seek out a director for 2 Guns, the production team agreed with Wahlberg's assessment that his previous director Baltasar Kormakur would be a good match for the material. Indeed, when Wahlberg introduced Kormakur to Masters' explosive screenplay, the director knew it should be his next project. 2 Guns is a natural progression of expression for Kormakur, a critically acclaimed actor and director in his native country of Iceland who made his American studio film debut in 2012's hit Contraband, which starred Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale. Known for finding a story's strength in dark humor, his films include 101 Reykjavik, A Little Trip to Heaven, Jar City, Inhale and The Deep. Commends Wahlberg: "Balt comes from that school of guerilla filmmaking. He never goes to the trailer. He's always on set, always moving stuff himself, getting in there and making it happen."

Discussing his choice to join the team, Kormakur says: "The script had this modern Western feel, which felt like something that I could play with and be stylized in finding ways of visualizing the story. There's a lot of humanity to the characters. We like them as we follow them, even though they're living in an elevated, but not necessarily unrealistic, criminal world." He sums: "Ultimately, 2 Guns is a characterdriven film that pays homage to Westerns through the feel and scope of the landscape."

Kormakur readily admits that he is drawn to action scripts, but not simply for the sake of delivering adrenaline-fueled moments. "I look at what I can add to it, and I ask myself if I connect with the material or if it will just be another day at work," he states. "I get attached to material that I feel I can put myself into and help the actors; that gets me excited."

Platt knew it would take just the right director to walk that line between delivering the explosive set pieces of the screenplay and actually exploring the characters' comedy and drama. "2 Guns is an action movie with humor, but it's also about real people. Underlying Balt's work is tremendous humanity, which is vital to creating a movie that is entertaining and one that people care about," explains the producer. "From day one, he saw the tone of 2 Guns and understood the masculinity of it: the nature of male friendship and the notion of two guys doing jobs that they believe in."

The production partners on 2 Guns were rounded out by two fellow producers, financier Norton Herrick and BOOM! Studios partner Andrew Cosby, and this proved to be the right group to finance and bring to life Kormakur's vision. "Balt is an innovator," sums Furla. "As an actor, as well as a director who has come up through the system, he knows how to accomplish creative shots that tell the story."

With one of the leads set for the action film, it was time to cast the fellow actors who could bring 2 Guns to life. And that began with one of the only performers working today who could wholly embody the complex Bobby Trench, whose motto is "When this is over, I'm going to kill you": two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington.

Next Production Note Section

TOP

Home | Theaters | Video | TV

Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.
Contact CinemaReview.com

2014 8,  All Rights Reserved.

Google

Find:  HELP!

Google