2 Guns Review

Think of this as a smarter Tango and Cash, replacing raging testosterone with biting snark.


rating: 3

--> There€™s a brisk, lively brevity right there in the title of 2 Guns, and it carries over to the film at large, which is essentially a series of dubiously plotted mini-adventures for the buddy pairing of Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. In a summer when many of our most anticipated blockbusters have been bloated duds, there€™s something commendable and relieving about this quick splash of action and violence that never takes itself too seriously, or sticks around long enough to wear out its welcome. There€™s nothing especially terrific in 2 Guns, but like its dual protagonists, it gets the job done in a pinch. Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) is an undercover DEA agent who€™s trying to put the sting on drug cartel head Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) by pairing with one of Greco€™s goons, Stig (Mark Wahlberg). Of course, it turns out Stig is doing the same for Navy Intelligence, and believes Bobby is a criminal too, until both try to rob a bank where Papi€™s money is stored. One of the movie€™s smarter scenes has the pair preemptively deciding to burn down a diner across the street from the bank so there aren€™t any cops conveniently hanging around when they do the job. Their donuts, you see, are known for miles around.


After the heist, Bobby and Stig find themselves in a world of trouble, as that stolen money actually belongs to the CIA and a Southern-fried agent who wants it back, played by an amusingly coiffed and vaguely threatening Bill Paxton. As more players become involved, including Stig€™s boss (James Marsden), the race for the money develops into a high-stakes battle that doesn€™t just ensnare Bobby and Stig, but also Bobby€™s ex, Deb (Paula Patton). Of all the sins to have, there€™s too much plot in 2 Guns, which wouldn€™t be so problematic were most of it not excessively well-worn formula. The script, witty and clever on the dialogue front, keeps circling the leads in gyrations that grow more erratic as the picture wears on. The twists and turns pile up almost as high as the expended shell casings, but director Baltasar Kormakur, who helmed101 Reykjavik and last year€™s Contraband, applies a shrewd visual style to the proceedings that hones in on the considerably brutal and over-heated action sequences at the same time its opening up spaces for enlivened banter between Washington and Wahlberg. The action itself is well-shot and frequently escalates into the absurd, including a confrontation with bulls which is the oddest thing of its kind since that stampede in Knight and Day, coming at the end of an increasingly eccentric gun battle. The supporting cast do strong work with a stable of oddballs and off-kilter types that are just a little too grounded for a Coen Bros movie but stand here out with sharp interest when sharing scenes with the leads.

2 guns

The almost brotherly discord between Bobby and Stig is captured with likable chemistry by Wahlberg and Washington, and if both actors are more or less coasting on their most recognizable personalities, their rapport sells 2 Guns second-hand pulp so well that we barely blink as everything spirals out into one hot mess.

Action films live and die by their willingness to immerse the audience in the energy of whatever chaos is happening on screen. When we have great characters and a strong story, that job is always easier, but in this case there€™s just enough to get by in the form of slick production values, a sharp-eared script, and two actors who are having a grand old time.

If it helps, think of this as a smarter Tango and Cash, replacing raging testosterone with biting snark.


2 Guns opens in wide release in the US on August 2nd and in the UK on August 16th.


Nathan Bartlebaugh hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.