The couple with the most electrifying chemistry on screen so far this year is Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in “2 Guns.” As the title of the the graphic novel by Steven Grant and Mateus Santolouco suggests, it is a double-barreled shoot-em-up. It is very violent, and it seems that the two stars think they are making a more light-hearted, escapist bang bang frolic than the movie can deliver. The other characters in the often-sour story seem to be in a different movie. But as long as the two stars are trading quips in syncopation with the rounds of firepower, it is very entertaining.
Washington plays Bobby, a DEA agent who has been undercover for a couple of years infiltrating a Mexico-based drug ring. Wahlberg is Stig, working undercover for the Navy for the same reason. We’re told they are the best at what they do, but somehow when they are trading banter about the best doughnuts in three counties and the drug dealer henchman who has been separated from his head they never figure out that they are both working for law enforcement. Me, I think I might suspect that Bobby was not the usual bad guy when he stops in the middle of a robbery to pick up and soothe a crying baby. But Stig is too busy being cool to notice. Other than that, and repeatedly trusting the wrong people, and not making much progress in getting anyone arrested or confiscating any drugs or weapons, they are both crackerjack detectives.
Bobby has some issues. He is a loner. He does not “have people.” He has a sometime girlfriend, a Justice Department attorney named Deb (Paula Patton). “Did you ever love me?” she asks him when they are in bed together. “I meant to love you,” he says. Stig is more easy-going, but he may be too far in the other direction when it comes to trust, not able to see when his “people” are less loyal to him than he is to them. That may be part of the explanation for their mutual blind spot in not figuring out that they were both doing the same thing. Neither they nor we have much time to think about that as very quickly it turns out that they have been set up and betrayed, and they will need to find a way to work together in the midst of being hunted down by three separate groups who want to kill them.
After that, it’s just banter, chase, banter, shoot-out, banter, a couple of torture scenes, banter, betrayal, more quippy banter, and then ludicrous even in the context of this movie side-story about the perils of illegal immigration, then pay-off (literally). It is an uneasy mix, but the stars own the fizzy dialogue with such brio, electricity and pure charisma that they provide the real explosive power.
Parents should know that this film includes constant comic book-style violence, some graphic and disturbing images, torture, guns, explosions, chases, fights, many characters injured and killed, non-explicit sexual situation, female nudity, some strong language, and pervasive corruption.
Family discussion: The issue of loyalty occurs several different times in this movie. How do Bobby and Stig show their views about loyalty? How does Deb? How do their views change over the course of the story?
If you like this, try: “Lethal Weapon,” “Shoot ’em Up,” and “The Other Guys”