Craig's First Take: "2 Guns"

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A Naval Intelligence Officer and a DEA agent who have been tasked with investigating one another, find they have been set up by the mob – whom both men are under the assumption that they have been stealing from.
2.5

Having Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg can make all the difference sometimes, especially in an action movie with a title like “2 Guns”. It’s like calling a western “50 Horses”, you wonder how much thought actually went into it. It’s no surprise that these two, slumming though they may be, turn in two charismatic performances, or that there are 2 guns, plus several others, throughout the proceedings to make this go down easy. But it’s innocuous enough to just make you want to wait for DVD.

Washington plays Bobby, a DEA agent who has spent years in the Mexican underworld trying to get close to drug kingpin Papi (Edward James Olmos). In his travels he has somehow picked up Stig (Wahlberg), who he thinks is just a small-time hood. Bobby’s plan is to rob a bank in order to grab evidence from Papi’s safety deposit box and he will need to Stig in order to do it, and once all is said and done he really doesn’t care if Stig goes down for the crime afterwards.

The one thing he doesn’t know about Stig though is that he is an AWOL-Navy man, working a secret operation in order to return to active duty. When the dust from the robbery settles, Bobby winds up shot in the shoulder and Stig disappears with the 43 million dollars they got from the bank. In addition to pissing off each other, they also have a sect of the Navy, Papi, and a slithery CIA Pitbull (Bill Paxton) all after the money, and them. With no other choice, they must team up.

There’s non-stop banter between Washington and Wahlberg, with Wahlberg as the smack-talker to Washington’s calmer presence, except very little of it is actually funny. The script by Blake Marsters still thinks there’s juice left in the cops like donuts gag and uses it many a time, but riffs about eating pancakes and shooting chickens barely hit either. Yet both actors give it their cool, fast-talking best and manage a few good ones.

The guys are also involved in shoot-outs where they fire guns side by side amidst raining money and where supposedly trained gun-men with high-powered weapons try to shoot them and still miss, while car chases and games of Russian roulette are played out but are never given any doubt to their outcomes by Wahlberg’s “Contraband” director Baltasar Kormakur. At least it’s all done with some style and an eye for location.

Adapted from a graphic novel by Steven Grant, “2 Guns” begins far-fetched and basically continues on that track with double-crosses, triple crosses, and characters who are eventually very sorry for their crosses, except too late. But don’t let all that fool you. Even “2 Guns” could care less about its plot. It’s a pretty simple experience of going through the motions and enjoying what little good Washington and Wahlberg can make out of it. They try, but it’s not enough to recommend.