Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
“The bank was a set-up, we got to figure out whose money that was,” says DEA Agent Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington). “You mean, like we’re working together?” replies Naval Intelligence Operative Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) after they’ve discovered only part of the truth about a bank heist that’s become very complicated in the action film 2 Guns.
Bobby has been in deep cover trying to get close to and bust drug lord Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) for months when what looks like a sure set-up and arrest goes south. Desperate not to be pulled from the operation by his superior, Bobby decides to take his partner Stigman up on his idea to rob a bank that holds Greco’s money, believing he can use the event as an advantage to get close to Greco. It’s right after the robbery when Trench’s back-up doesn’t arrive in time that things go horribly wrong and he learns that Stigman is really a Naval Intelligence officer.
When Stigman turns the money over to his superior officer (played by James Marsden), he learns he’s been set-up and is part of a double-cross from which he barely escapes alive. After a few close calls and while being hunted by a mysterious gunman, Bobby and Stigman decide to partner up – knowing the truth this time about each other – and work together to find out whose money it really was they stole from the bank, who wants them dead, and just who they can trust.
With countless shoot-outs, explosions and car/truck chases, 2 Guns is a loud, convoluted, and off-beat action/buddy film that comes up short. The film’s tone is incredibly uneven, with funny banter between Washington and Wahlberg countered by scenes of bloody and brutal shootings and torture.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg deliver solid performances and have good chemistry as two unlikely partners who eventually begin to trust each other only because they have no one else they can turn to. Wahlberg, however, seems too old to be portraying Stigman who’s a bit naïve and simple when it comes to crime and double-crosses in what seems to be a highly corrupt world.
Bill Paxton delivers a memorable performance as the ruthless leader of the mystery men who are hunting Bobby and Stigman to retrieve the stolen bank money for its original owner. He not only holds his own with a dark and menacing scene with Washington, but steals it from him – and that is quite a feat. Edward James Olmos is perfectly cast as Greco, the drug lord who always seems to be one step ahead of everyone else and who takes full advantage of his position.
Still, with 2 Guns‘ constant awkward switching between funny one-liners and witty banter from its two stars to the violent shootings, beatings and torture. the film never finds its rhythm and finally becomes a predictable and forgettable action movie.
2 Guns is rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity.
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