The following introduction is a little spoilery, but it doesn’t really reveal anything that will compromise enjoyment of the movie in my opinion, but anyway, read at your own risk, or simply skip down to the next one. Denzel Washington stars as undercover DEA agent Robert “Bobby” Trench, while Mark Wahlberg plays undercover Naval Intelligence officer Michael “Stig” Stigman. Together the two of them plot to rob a bank in which they think contains money belonging to a Mexican drug cartel that they’ve been mutually investigating, but actually contains a “slush fund” controlled by the CIA, who of course, don’t take to kindly having it robbed from them. Thickening the plot, neither Stigman or Trench know that the other is actually an undercover operative for their respective agencies, nor do they know that the people they’re working for in both the DEA and the Navy respectively, are not to be trusted either. After the job goes down then they wind up on the run from the DEA, the corrupt military operatives who set up the robbery, the pissed off CIA who got robbed, and a caught in the middle drug cartel, not to mention, each other.
I must confess that despite what I’m going to write after this sentence I enjoyed this movie completely from beginning to end. There was not a single second of it that bored me, and when it was over I felt thoroughly entertained and satisfied for the most part. That being said I found that in the end 2 Guns was sadly a bunch of superficial window dressing. It lacked any real intelligent depth in its characters or story (being overly complicated does not equate to being interesting/deep) and the action scenes were mostly generic and uninspiring at best. What saved the movie from being a total bust was the charismatic performances of the two leading men. Sometimes all you need to make an enjoyable movie is the right leading men I guess. With lesser stars heralding this picture, 2 Guns could have easily wound up firing blanks but these two packed firepower in droves. By sheer force of personality alone Wahlberg and Washington save this picture from being the B movie that it is and elevate it to the status of a very entertaining action comedy that was better than it had any right to be. What this movie lacks in substance, which is a lot mind you, it managed to make up for in sheer swagger and bravado. I wouldn’t say it’s a winning recipe for most movies, but occasionally you get lucky, such as the case was here.
Still though, I kept waiting the entire length of the movie for the script and the direction to raise itself to the level of the stars within it, yet it never materialized At times it came tantalizingly close to being the movie I wanted it to be. There were moments when this movie felt and looked like a top class modern piece of action comedy noir, especially the moments between Denzel Washington and Paula Patton. There was a great line that they both repeat to each other in this film when one asks the other if they love them. The response was always “No, but I really meant to…” and that’s just about the way I felt about this movie. I liked it a lot, a whole lot in fact, and I really meant to love it, but it just never quite got to that level for me.
There was still a hell of a lot to enjoy here though. As said, Denzel and Marky Mark were a blast to watch here, and they both looked to be having a great time making this movie as well. Paula Patton, who plays Denzel’s lover and fellow DEA agent here is smoking hot and very effective in her role. Bill Paxton plays Earl, the CIA agent whose money is stolen by the duo at the beginning of the movie. This is not your typical buttoned down CIA operative though. Paxton seemed to be playing Earl as if he were practicing for Leonardo DiCaprio’s role as the plantation owner in Django Unchained, and by that I mean it was a complete hoot to watch him just let loose and play such an over the top dark and dangerous character, complete with an awesome southern drawl. All of the actors in this movie were tremendous in fact. The villains were all just the correct level of over the top and the main characters never struck a false note.
They spend the entire first act of the movie getting our two main characters entangled in this complicated web of cross betrayal and inter agency intrigue, and I had my hopes built up that our heroes would have something creative and memorable up their sleeves to extricate themselves from this big mess. Instead what transpired was just your big standard Hollywood gun fight replete with random explosions, an old fashioned scene with stampeding bulls, and that old trusty standard, Mexican standoff. These are all thoughts that came into my mind as the movie was winding to its close though. All the way up into this point I had been, as said, thoroughly enjoying this movie to the fullest. Wahlberg and Washington brought so much style and badass swagger to the screen that it was impossible not to root for them. Their back and forth banter in this movie was top notch, and the direction in pretty much everything besides the action scenes was great as well.
It’s a strange statement to make, but in this action comedy the weakest parts to me were the action scenes themselves. Wahlberg and Denzel both did superhuman jobs of allowing me to suspend my disbelief of this ridiculous and convoluted plot, but then when it came time for the amped up car chases and gun fights it was like I was yanked right out of the movie and into comic book/video game land where I found I was unable to really care about any of the bullets or explosions occurring in front of me. I don’t expect realism from movies like this mind you, but there is a delicate balance that must be maintained, and I felt this movie just edged over the line of acceptability for me.
There’s a scene where Mark Wahlberg takes out a helicopter with a 9mm for instance that shows you the kind of thing I’m talking about. Now in another Wahlberg vehicle from a few years back called Shooter, he performs the same feat of single handedly taking out an entire army by himself and even shooting down a helicopter like a regular redneck Rambo. However, the scene in that movie did not trip my BS-O-meter because as implausible as it was that such events would be occurring in real life the director there took painstaking measures to show what it would take were it possible for such a thing to happen. And while it stretched the limits of credulity it did not flat out break fundamental laws of physics. Also, he used an assault rifle and a giant propane tank there instead of just a pistol. It’s just a minor thing, but little things like that I felt dragged this movie down in the final act.
I still can’t give this movie a thumbs down rating, or even a thumbs in the middle rating in the end though. The performances by all of the actors here are simply too good to be missed. 2 Guns may not have been firing on all cylinders but it fired on just enough of them to make it a memorable and fun movie that’s definitely worth a rental sometime down the road I’d say. There are rumors in the work of a sequel to this movie already in fact. I’m hoping that if that happens that they can put together a bit stronger script so that we’ll actually get a full on great movie to go with the already memorable and badass performances.
2 Guns gets a three out of five: GOOD.