As the summer movie season gasps to a close, there are still a few action films that offer some diversion, if not clarity or purpose. In order of release, here are the last few entries.
WHITE HOUSE DOWN, not to be confused with INDEPENDENCE DAY or MARS ATTACKS or many others in which our first residence gets blown apart, features Jamie Foxx as a cool president obviously meant to remind us of our current cool president. He's caring, savvy, has a loving family, and he's black. Unfortunately, he's also under attack from a commando force of unhinged vets under the leadership of a demented James Woods, who just happens to be the head of security. To save our nation and his own little girl (wow, what an innovation), we have Tatum Channing, who seems to be in every other action movie this year. After constant chases, including a hilarious race around the White House Lawn in those beefy limos, the outlandish plot finally shuts down with a whimper. Some of this is fun, especially the performances of Maggie Gyllenhall as a White House secret service leader and Richard Jenkins as the Speaker of the House. There are surprises that defy credibility, but then this is about Washington, so none of them are logical or particularly surprising.
WOLFERINE. That hairy muscular mutant with psycho tendencies, a bad hair cut to suggest his wolfishness, and projectile claws is back, though who wanted him, I'm not sure. To provide a new setting for Hugh Jackman's rage, we travel to Japan for big and nasty business, the Yakuzu gangsters, family strife as Wolferine's old friend is dying, and three beautiful women, two of whom are deadly. As Jackman flexes and slashes his way through this mess, the plot spins out of control into bad sci-fi mad scientist territory. Open at your own risk.
2 GUNS. Certainly the pick of this crop, TWO GUNS features action favorite Mark Wahlberg and actor of all genres Denzel Washington as two guys pulling a small town heist, one that explodes (along with a lot of things in this movie) into non-stop gunfights, car chases, Mexican mafia violence, and plot twists that defy explanation. Let's just say these guys are not who they or we think they are. Their interactions are akin to those of the heroes of series like BEVERLY HILLS COP and LETHAL WEAPON. Denzel is usually the straight (and smarter) man for Mark's off the wall jokes and decisions, and many of the fast quips are quite clever but don't speed the plot. Let's just say that there are a lot of triple crosses in this caper, which moves at breakneck pace, not allowing you to think how nonsensical some of them are. How could they be when we are talking about the Navy, the CIA, the Mexican drug trade, et al?
This is watchable, though Denzel is slumming and Mark is above his usual element. Their support, though, is top notch. Bill Paxton is a creepy, sadistic CIA operative, and Edward James Olmos is a creepy, sadistic drug lord. Collectively, they make 2 GUNS worth watching.