“2 Guns” delves into the brutal world of undercover officers, drug kingpins, and crooked law enforcement, emerging with a proficiently scripted crime thriller. In lesser hands, this clash of severe situations and insolence in the face of death might fail, but both Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are comfortable with their cocky characters to balance the laughs with the shootouts. The breezy jazz wafting into the action scenes doesn’t hurt the atmosphere either. The protagonists’ incessant back-and-forth banter steadily improves as the picture progresses, while the plot devolves into a messy pile of crosses and double-crosses with a conclusion that remains unforeseeable – but not entirely savory. Worth witnessing, however, is the snappy dialogue poured from two easygoing actors reveling in their craft.
Undercover naval intelligence officer Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) is tasked with stealing $3 million in cash from Mexican cartel boss Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos). In order to pull off the job, “Stig” allies with resourceful DEA agent Bobby Bean (Denzel Washington), and the unlikely duo plot to rob the Tres Cruces Savings & Loan. But when Stig and Bobby walk away with $40 million more than they bargained for, they realize they’ve been set up, and the two men are disavowed from their respective agencies. With no one left they can trust, Stig and Bobby must partner up once more to track down Greco, recover the loot, and stay one step ahead of the cartel, the DEA, the Navy and a bloodthirsty madman intent on retrieving his stolen millions.
The movie poster illustrates the essentials: the two stars, the title, and the release date. And that’s it. Even the standard list of credits has been removed, shedding some light on the advertising ploy and the apparent meaninglessness of supporting cast, producers, the director, writers, source materials (based on a graphic novel!), etc. This leads to the title itself and its curious prominence, which is perhaps the most simplistic, unimpressive, understated, and unattractive conception in decades. Thankfully, despite the Tony Scott-styled climax and buddy cop interactivity, the circuitous series of betrayals, a puzzling hierarchy of corruption, and sarcasm to deflect deadly scenarios, the movie doesn’t reflect its terrible title. Or perhaps the title speaks volumes about exactly what the project wants to impart on its audiences, and the pointlessness of a convoluted premise.
The verbal repartee is consistently amusing due to Washington and Wahlberg’s ease in which they inhabit likeable antihero characters. Not particularly skilled or extraordinary (adorned with the typical endless abilities of theatrical supercops), their chipper and chirpy vocal jousting and natural dynamic sets the tone for clownishly adventurous hijinks that never present a real threat of destruction. Taking jurisdictional conflicts to new heights, “2 Guns” adds a wittiness and volatility to the predictable pairing of opposing forces teamed together in an accidental race to right wrongs. Significant revenge is elusive, especially with the quirky forms of interrogation designed for villains begging to have the tables turned (in an eye-for-an-eye manner), but entertaining justice is still served with an explosive, spontaneous approach.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)