RATING: 2 stars (out of 4)
Think back to 1980s action flicks like Top Gun, Action Jackson, Road House and just about every buddy cop flick from the decade that refined the genre. What they all were at heart was dude-ified romantic comedies, unrepentant bromances with explosions rather than kisses. Catch-phrase exchanging rather than sweet talk. Gunfire rather than flirtation.
It’s not that the themes were gay — well, Top Gun and Road House were pretty gay — but they tackled the touchiest of subjects in deep yet platonic love between dude-bros. While there’s nothing much special about 2 Guns, at least it’s an honest and heartfelt effort at tapping into the 80s-style of dumb, big bromantic action.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg play Bobby and Marcus, outlaws on the run who pull off the bank heist of a lifetime. They’re as inseparable as Butch and Sundance with all the shorthand and inside jokes that come along with far too much time spent together on the road. Bobby is a half-cocked sharpshooter who lives by impulse, and Marcus is the wizened tactician who is unflappably cool and always has a backup plan to his backup plan. Well cast and acted, these guys are the building blocks for an amazing action movie. The chemistry between the leads is certainly there. The only problem is they’re stuck in a movie that’s incredibly stupid, even for a genre that doesn’t exactly demand coherence.
This is one of those “twist” movies where alliances crumble, people are not who they claim to be and there are so many double-crosses, no one is ever really sure whose side anyone is on, what anyone wants or what it would take to qualify as a happy ending. I won’t spoil things, other than say Bobby and Marcus end up being chased, and/or are chasing, the CIA, Navy, DEA and a Mexican drug cartel all at the same time.
The fact Bobby and Marcus are both having fun the whole time, playing a game of Hide The $41 Million, doesn’t really add to the movie’s sense of joy. Instead, they just seem like a couple of idiots who end up digging themselves in deeper and deeper trouble for no good reason.
There’s a throwaway, love-hate romance between Bobby and Deb (Paula Patton), a federal agent who either knows too much or too little, that only adds more confusing curveballs to the rest of the nonsensical free-for-all. When Deb spends half an hour as a hostage to the mustachioed drug lord played by Edward James Olmos, she pretty much delivers a monologue that makes the argument her character doesn’t have a purpose in the movie and there’s no drama to her having been captured.
All you can do is nod in agreement. The character of Deb, like the movie itself, is pretty but poorly thought out, pointless and tries to do so much it ends up chasing its tail and going nowhere. The movie has 2 Guns, all right, but nowhere to point them.
Starring Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Bill Paxton, Paula Patton and James Marsden. Written by Blake Masters, based on a story by Steven Grant. Directed by Baltasar Kormakur. 109 minutes. Rated R.