[Note: The following article contains spoilers for 2 Guns. If you do not wish to have this film spoiled for you, read on at your own risk.]

Women in film. Action films to be exact.

A week ago, we saw the release of Baltasar Kormákur’s latest action flick, 2 Guns, starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington. We here at Stars & Popcorn enjoyed the film a lot. It’s a great action movie with humor and explosions. What more do you want?

Will we remember this film years from now as one of the greatest of a generation? Of course not. It’s a fairly shallow action movie. But this movie has been getting a lot of press due to its misogynistic portrayal of women. So let’s try to break this down. Is 2 Guns an innocent ‘guy’ movie, or a terrible statement on the state of women in society?

Damsels not in distress.

As we know, 2 Guns follows the story of Wahlberg and Washington’s characters, Stig and Bobby Beans, as they are forced to work together. There is a great cast of actors in this film, including Bill Paxton and Edward James Olmos. But there is only one actress featured in the film, Paula Patton. She plays Deb, Bobby’s much younger romantic partner and fellow DEA agent. Ultimately, we learn that she is responsible for setting up Bobby and Stig and she is murdered by the Mexican cartel at the end of the second act. And this is what has been popping up in the news lately.

It’s bad enough that there is only one actress with a substantial speaking role, but she doesn’t even make it to the end of the film. She’s little more than the catalyst for the story and eye candy for the audience (it doesn’t help that she also has a nude scene in the film). So are those speaking out against 2 Guns right? Did Kormákur create a film that puts down women?

That’s a tough question, but I am inclined to say no. As I pointed out, there are a lot of arguments against the movie. But I can’t help but notice that 2 Guns is the archetypal buddy cop ‘bromance’ movie. The romantic storyline gives Bobby some motivation throughout the film, but the most important relationship is that of Bobby and Stig. Even at the end of the movie, Stig points out to Bobby that they’re family now. They’ve gone through a lot and now have a stronger bond. And that’s the point. The gender of the main characters isn’t necessarily important, except in defining the movie’s shallow genre.

At least she gets to hold a gun. Right?

Another reason the film has come under fire is because of supporters of the Bechdel movie test. For those that don’t know, this is a test presumed to be able to determine whether or not a given film’s female characters can or should be considered full characters. It consists only of three questions:

  1. 1. Are there at least two named women in the film?
  2. 2. Do they talk to each other?
  3. 3. Do they talk about something other than a man?

It is surprising how many movies fail this test. It is estimated that only 53 percent of films pass it in a meaningful way. It is a sad indictment on the entertainment industry, and many directors, including Jason Reitman, have spoken out in support of the test.

That being said, 2 Guns is an anomaly. As stated before, the most important aspect of the film is Bobby and Stig’s relationship, or bromance. And more importantly, the Bechdel test is, in my opinion, to be used to look at the film industry as a whole. We cannot judge a single film by its failing of this test. Yes, it is a disgrace that so many films fail, but that’s the point. So many films fail. We can track the trend of the industry, but not damn a film because it fails. So with that being said, 2 Guns is not sexist, but women are far from its focus. Hopefully we’ll see a change in the industry.

One Response to Austin’s Soapbox: Is 2 Guns Sexist?

  1. Dan says:

    I’m not sure if a lack of women in a film makes a film sexist. Therefore the Bechdel test should more be used to ascertain female presence, not the degree to which a film degrades or marginalizes women. Sexism (in my opinion) has more to do with how “present” female characters are portrayed. The Lone Ranger is still the most sexist (new) film I’ve seen in a while.

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