There’s a general rule in Hollywood that Denzel Washington can do no wrong. The Academy Award-winning actor has developed a film reputation based on his archetypical badass roles, which have made him a million-dollar box office king. In his latest film, 2 Guns, which co-stars Mark Wahlberg, Washington holds true to his strengths.
While to some extent he’s become a bit typecast over the years, often sticking to roles that embody complex machismo and moral misconduct (American Gangster, Flight), in 2 Guns, Washington’s character, Robert “Bobby” Trench, manages to do so without vexation.
Undercover DEA agent Bobby teams up with Michael Stigman (played by Wahlberg), also undercover with the Navy SEALs, to rob $3 million (which turns out to be $43 million) worth of trap money from a bank, in order to convict a Mexican drug lord named Papi Greco. The rest of the film’s plot centers around the duo fending off Greco’s gang and corrupt officials who are all after the cash. It’s your classic action film: gunplay (hence the movie’s title), car chases and plenty of plot twists—oh, and Paula Patton goes topless.
Despite its obviousness, what really makes 2 Guns a winner is Washington and Wahlberg’s on-screen chemistry. The two actors cleverly bob and weave their characters’ dynamic between foes and partners in crime. Scenes such as the pair brawling like two kids on a schoolyard in the middle of a desert often come off as humorous, providing much-needed comic relief. In some ways, Washington and Wahlberg are reminiscent of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys.
The film isn’t all about punchlines, though; true to Denzel form, Bobby is a layered character that, in some ways, is never truly unraveled. In one particular scene, where he picks up and consoles a weeping infant in the middle of a bank robbery, captures a complexity that only Washington could pull off. But the film’s dominant violent theme leaves little room for character development. 2 Guns is so brutal that at times you may question whether you should feel entertained or repulsed (more so the former).
But of course, what’s an action film without the classic love interest? Debbie Rees (played by Patton), who’s also a DEA agent, serves as the film’s eye candy and de facto damsel in distress. Unfortunately, Patton’s role is so insignificant that the character seems forced into the film’s choppy storyline with little thought to it—which probably explains her lackluster performance. While her role in the film makes better sense toward the ending plot twist, it seems as if her greatest contribution is showing off her areolas.
In a nutshell, 2 Guns has all the makings of a decent action flick. There’s nothing groundbreaking about Washington and Wahlberg’s performance, nor do they offer up anything you haven’t seen in their previous works. Still, the film is thrillingly entertaining and filled with unexpected betrayal. What more can you ask for?–Gerren Keith Gaynor (@MrGerrenalist)
XXL Rating: L