Reel Critics: '2 Guns,' please, with toast

Two guys team up to rob a bank. But first they flirt with the waitress at the diner across the street, argue over pancakes versus hash browns and blow up the place before the toast arrives.

This is the breezy start to "2 Guns," starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. They make perfect partners in crime — Bobby (Washington) is the hip straight man to Stig (Wahlberg) and his irrepressible motor mouth.

That quiet little Texas bank turns out to have a boatload of cash in the vault, way more than expected. The plot gets quite confusing after that, but we're more than happy to go along for the ride.

It's good to see these stars, who usually play more brutal characters, take themselves less seriously even as the bullets are flying. Sort of like "Lethal Weapon" without the rage.

The fine supporting cast includes Edward James Olmos as a drug kingpin, Paula Patton as Bobby's impossibly beautiful boss and bedmate, and James Marsden as Stig's boss. But it's Bill Paxton's wacko CIA guy — always one step ahead of everyone else — who steals the show with his lazy drawl and black humor.

To give away more of the story would rob you of the fun, but "2 Guns" is a surprisingly playful and entertaining thriller.


A 'Streetcar' from Woody

In "Blue Jasmine," we first see Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) glibly talking about her privileged life while flying first class to San Francisco. With her Chanel jacket and Louis Vuitton luggage, she's a typical Park Avenue matron.

But Jasmine is broke and broken, now forced to live with sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in her tiny apartment. Jasmine's presence doesn't sit well with Ginger's fiancé, Chili (Bobby Cannavale), or Ginger's ex, Augie (an excellent Andrew Dice Clay).

There's some wry humor in seeing this pale beauty as a fish out of water and doing "menial" labor, nervously holding it together with vodka and Xanax.

But comedy turns to tragedy as Jasmine loses herself thinking about her marriage to Hal (Alec Baldwin) and their privileged life. She often talks aloud like she's still in the past and panics when jolted back into present life. We learn she is not the innocent she pretends to be.

It's not hard to see that this is writer/director Woody Allen's take on a modern-day Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire," with Hal, Chili and Augie all as less volatile facets of Stanley Kowalski.

As always, Allen has assembled a first-class ensemble of actors. Blanchett gives a bravura performance as a desperate woman unraveling beyond hope when the kindness of strangers fails her.

"Blue Jasmine" is another classic Allen film, deftly rendered by a masterful director and his star.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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