Look Ma! Even the double crosses have double crosses! 2 Guns is the kind of action thriller that is immensely enjoyable to watch even though there is nothing original going on whatsoever. The reason for this is entirely the charisma of the two leads, Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg and Denzel are just so charming throughout the film that I didn’t really mind that nothing actually happened. The obvious comparison is Bad Boys, with two action stars exchanging witty banter while trying to come out on top in the end. While this film might not be better than Bad Boys it can certainly stand next to it with pride.
Denzel Washington plays Bobby Trench, an undercover DEA agent trying to take down Mexican drug cartel leader Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos.) He has teamed up with Mark Wahlberg’s Michael Stigman who unbeknownst to him is an undercover Navy Intelligence Officer. A plan is put into place to rob a bank that contains Greco’s drug money so that the DEA will have something to pin on him. The plan doesn’t work out quite as predicted and the two make off with 43 million dollars. Unbeknownst to both of the them, the money was the CIA’s and not Greco’s. Now the CIA wants their money back, but unbeknownst to them there are now three other players involved. Stigman gets double crossed by Trench. Trench finally figures out who Stigman is. The DEA isn’t claiming Trench and the Navy has cut loose Stigman. Everyone is trying to find the money and loyalties last about as long as a two year old’s attention span. Jokes fly and action explodes as crosses are doubled and the plot eats itself.
There is surprisingly little story here and the filmmakers are banking everything on the likability of the two leads. They are lucky because both actors have the charm on full blast. Washington and Wahlberg are finely-paired and play off each other exceedingly well. A perfection of the love/hate frenemy relationship of sorts. It was fun to watch them and in lesser hands the lack of a storyline would have been glaringly obvious.
The film is directed by Baltasar Kormakur who is extremely competent with the action set pieces and then gets out of the way to let his actors shine. There are good supporting turns in the film for Paula Patton as Trench’s partner and ex-lover, James Marsden as Stigman’s commanding officer, and Bill Paxton as the CIA’s hound dog. Paxton is especially effective and steals every scene he’s in. All around, the cast is effective and keep the film from falling in on itself.
There is a chance that 2 Guns will make a decent amount of money and then fade into obscurity which is a shame, because this is a solid and extremely watchable film. It certainly should hold up better than some of the other blockbuster fare we’ve been getting lately. (I’m looking at you Wolverine.) This was fun to watch and deserves on audience. Washington and Wahlberg use their charisma to good effect and even if it wasn’t the most original (or coherent) story I’ve seen it was well executed and held my attention for the running time. That’s really all I can ask for in a film like this. Action/comedies are everywhere but rarely do they have leads this good.