While it certainly won’t go down as one of the most memorable movies of the year, 2 Guns does have an undeniable amount of charisma and charm that make it one of the more pleasant summertime surprises. It has more in common with an Elmore Leonard novel than the high-octane, action blockbuster title would suggest, and combined with a well paired leading duo, that’s more than enough.
Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and Stig Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) have just pulled off a heist that they thought would rip off a few million dollars belonging to a well connected drug Mexican drug lord (Edward James Olmos) from a small credit union in a sleepy boarder town. There are only three problems. There was actually over $40 million, neither realized the other was an undercover agent working for government bureaus (Bobby for the DEA and Stig for the military) and that both were being double crossed, and that they just stole money earmarked for a CIA slush fund.
Adapted from the graphic novel by Steven Grant and helmed by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur (who most recently teamed up with Wahlberg on Contraband) the film has an agreeably fun and silly tone. The action never goes over the top and there isn’t any of the misguided misanthropy that permeates some of the more snarky films coming out of the genre. It’s one of those films where a mismatched duo gets into an awful situation and they have to put their bickering aside for the greater good.
That dynamic works because it seems like the leads and the characters genuinely like each other most of the time. Washington and Wahlberg look like they’re having a lot of fun with the material, which is something kind of rare from these two. Washington handles the straight man role quite well, and rarely does he get the chance to play someone this laid back. Bobby and Stig are both men of action trying to get to the bottom of a situation, but they both seem more annoyed by things than threatened.
As for Wahlberg, he gets to show off a side of him that’s sorely underused. Instead of being a tough guy who’s constantly concerned about everything, he’s just kind of a charming, sometimes aloof smart ass. Wahlberg has always had charm and a considerable amount of comedic and action chops, but when put in service of a script with a different kind of dry humour than he normally gets it feels fresh and lively.
The supporting cast also boasts quite a few heavy hitters bringing their A-game. Olmos – who has been away from big name billing in these kinds of films for far too long – is agreeably slimy as the business minded kingpin. Paula Patton gets in a few good moments, but is largely lost in this boy’s club as Bobby’s secret lover-slash-bureau contact-slash-obvious plot device. James Marsden shows up as Stig’s superior that sets the entire double cross in motion, and he’s sufficiently weaselly. The best has to be Bill Paxton’s gleefully deranged CIA spook out to make everyone’s life a living hell so he can get the money back.
There’s not much to be said about the film overall. It was largely forgotten about the day after I watched it aside from the plot and remarking that nothing about it was really technically being wrong. The plot twists are pretty easily telegraphed and everything plays out pretty much as expected right up to the end, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. It’s a movie. It’s amusing. I doubt the aim in making it was much higher than that, and at least it succeeds.