Plot twists, fast-paced action and, of course, guns. Lots and lots of them.
2 Guns brings together Hollywood heavyweights Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in a classic buddy cop flick where they play a pair of good guys with some badass attitudes. An explosive action film that subtly pays homage to the Western genre, 2 Guns rides the thin line between high-stakes combat and dark humor.
The plot revolves around DEA agent Robert “Bobby” Trench (Washington) and U.S Naval intelligence officer Michael “Stig” Stigman (Wahlberg), two operatives from competing bureaus who are forced to work together as undercover agents in a massive drug bust. After spending years together in the sinister underworld of the Mexican drug cartels, Bobby and Stig have become partners attached at the hip. Sounds pretty standard … but here’s the caveat: Both agents don’t know the other is also undercover. Gasp!
In their attempt to recover money from drug warlords in a fiery (yes, I mean literal fire) bank heist, the two undercover agents accidently expose a colossal secret, which reveals that America’s eroded and corrupt bureaucracy isn’t the good guy in the violent drug trade world. In fact, America’s badge-wielding agents prove to be even more merciless than warlord Papi Greco (Edward James) and his trigger-happy gang of thugs. Thus, after revealing their true identity, Bobby and Stig join forces to fight the villains on both sides of the border.
What follows is a plot packed with a myriad of explosions, chase scenes and everything else you’d expect from a popcorn action flick.
The narrative itself offers little we haven’t seen before. We got the typical Hollywood action flick recipe: two cool cops, one evil Mexican drug lord, sprinkle in some corrupt agents and, of course, don’t forget the beautiful damsel in distress (Paula Patton). At times, 2 Guns' rendition of the action film archetype (not to mention the title) was so unoriginally over-the-top it seemed like it was mimicking the genre, tongue-in-cheek. At one point, Patton’s character, Agent Deb, who acts as Washington's love interest, is dramatically tied up in a scene reminiscent of silent films’ iconic image of a woman roped on railway line.
At times the narrative felt so uninspired it seemed like I was watching Washington and Wahlberg play themselves, playing cops ... which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
In fact, what saves the movie from drowning in its clichéd elements are the performances. Washington and Wahlberg’s relationship onscreen was magnetic. Wahlberg’s likeable hardass character peppered the story with unexpected humorous moments while playing off Washington’s straight-man. Their quick-tongued and banter-heavy dialogue coupled with palpable chemistry carried the film's weaker elements.
Another noteworthy performance comes from Bill Paxton, who plays Earl — a tough, honey-tongued CIA asset who trails closely behind Stig and Bobby’s coattails. His memorable and deeply sinister character effortlessly draws attention and dominates the screen. Paxton drives one of the most tension-filled, powerful moments of the movie — which, interestingly enough, did not involve explosions or combat. The poignant scene is a simple and eerily calm interrogation between Paxton and Washington that will push you to the edge of your seat.
In short, don’t be fooled by the esteemed cast. 2 Guns is a light action flick with all the typical plot-twist and stunts you’ve seen coming out of Hollywood for years. That is not to say it is not worth watching. At the end of the day, it was strangely refreshing to watch actors such as Denzel Washington dive head-first in a movie that doesn't pretend to be more than it is: guns, bros and action.