What do movies and sports have in common? Match-ups. It’s all about the match-ups baby. Some cinematic pairings just get us excited, like the prospect of Mark Wahlberg (Pain & Gain) and Denzel Washington (Flight). Washington is a living legend, and Wahlberg has cemented his place in modern cinema with critically acclaimed turns in films such as The Fighter and The Departed, for which he received Oscar nominations. The action comedy is on the rise lately, and 2 Guns tantalized moviegoers with the rare opportunity to see Washington bring levity to a performance. Unfortunately, even charismatic leading men can’t save a goofy script.
Washington and Wahlberg are Bobby Trench and Michael Stigman (Stig), respectively. When we meet the pair, they are hatching a plot to rob a small bank to swindle a drug lord named Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) out of his holdings. They each have distinct reasons for wanting to pull this caper, but each is keeping the real reason a secret. At first blush we think these two are criminals, after all who else would be robbing a bank? In actuality they are both “undercover” in their own way, with Bobby being a DEA agent and Stig having firsthand experience with naval intelligence, despite the appearance of being a career criminal.
As each plays fast and loose with the law, the viewer is left wondering if our protagonists are corrupt or just deep undercover. Bobby tries to convince fellow agent Deb (Paula Patton, Mission:Impossible – Ghost Protocol) that the robbery will serve as a way to nab Papi, while Stig is beholden to corrupt superior officers (James Marsden, Straw Dogs) within the Navy. Their plan goes awry when they find out Papi’s bank vault yields a much larger heist than expected. Not only do they need to ascertain the origin of the surplus money, they must ward off several factions who will stop at nothing to retrieve it. Complicating matters is the fact that Bobby and Stig can’t really trust each other after having lied about their true identities.
I’ll start with the positive. Washington and Wahlberg have tons of chemistry and good comedic timing. I don’t have an issue with their performances at all; my issue is with the source material. The storyline was simply foolish and muddled, and much of the characters behavior was far-fetched. The screenplay marks the big screen debut for writer Blake Masters, who has previously worked in television. Maybe his next effort will be more successful, although 2 Guns appears poised to have a solid opening weekend. Nevertheless, it takes more than two talented leading men to make a successful movie, even if the pairing looks like a “slam dunk.” Even a dynamic duo like Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro aren’t a sure-fire success if the script is wanting (see Righteous Kill). If those two legends can team up for a dud, no tandem is above reproach. The rest of the cast did little to bolster the movie, and it will not be remembered as a summer standout. I’m not saying it was horrible, just very mediocre – in spite of its two stars. Grade: C
This article first appeared at Poptimal and was reprinted with permission