2 Guns is a fun piece of absurdist work, a movie that has one of the most oddball pairings we’ve seen in years (Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan might take that honor for Cop Out). Not only do Washington and Wahlberg actually seem to be enjoying themselves, but they’re both at their charismatic best, reminding audiences of why we love each actor. Very rarely does a film utilize its leads perfectly. And while the film takes a few many trips down a convoluted road, it surely understands that its character motivations are virtually nonexistent and that this is a film of dark absurdity. Violence is gleefully overdone and not entirely excessive, but its action scenes show the consequences of these characters’ actions.
The film centers on Bobby Beans (Denzel Washington), a DEA agent who’s undercover working on a case with the drug cartel. He ends up finding a partner in a dismissed naval intelligence officer, Marcus Stigman (Mark Wahlberg), and after they rob a bank with far more money than they were expecting, things begin to go wrong. Paula Patton plays another agent whom Bobby has a fling with, and she serves merely as eye candy with no shred of development. 2 Guns won’t ever be noted for its strengths in female characterizations. Bill Paxton plays an eclectic man who plays Russian Roulette and shoots people in the knee caps. He does a tremendously wonderful job with a ridiculous role, and his character’s true identity isn’t even revealed until halfway through the film.
2 Guns is spectacularly messy, that’s for sure. Most of its characters are eccentric cardboard cutouts, but they spew acidic gems that show remarkable bite. Washington and Wahlberg are wonderful to watch, as I mentioned, but their true motivations and identities remain shrouded in secrecy for much of the film’s first act; the movie’s defined by how little we know about its characters, yet how fundamentally compelling it remains. The directing is fairly strong, even if it’s still a bit unsure of how to mix both action and comedy. The action scenes work, though, as do the comedic scenes. It’s interesting, because I know this isn’t a very strongly constructed film, but I genuinely found it entertaining.
Grade: ★★★½ (out of 5)