In 2 Guns, two men try to infiltrate a drug cartel in Mexico by robbing the bank they think is housing that cartel’s money — $43.125 million, to be exact. Because that makes sense cinematically and in reality, right?
Wrong. But this is not the surprise twist. The big, gaping, hand-waving surprise plot point is that these two men are undercover government workers. Robert “Bobby” Trench (played by Denzel Washington) is a federal Drug Enforcement Agency agent, and Michael “Stig” Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) is a United States naval officer.
Each steals the money for his own reasons. Bobby is trying to take down a drug kingpin, Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos), with his field supervisor/slash former lover, Debbie (Paula Patton). Stig is trying to get back into the good graces of his commanding officer, Quince (James Marsden), for reasons not readily clear to the audience.
Screenwriter Blake Masters (based on the graphic novel “Boom! Studios by Steven Grant) tries to tell the story of how two men start their journey at odds and end up being family. He also attempts to tell a story of how the United States treats Mexicans (read: foreigners) and uses the southern country to sell drugs for their profit.
If that’s not enough, Masters is also trying to tell a chase story in which everyone is not what they seem. The latter is actually what makes 2 Guns interesting enough to watch.
Director Baltasar Kormakur (the same who directed Contraband, which bears a resemblance to 2 Guns) makes sure to inject some humor into a film that could and does become dark very quickly. But he doesn’t quite make his mark when it comes to creating a story that’s easy to follow.
Yes the audience knows that these two men are undercover and they’ve robbed the wrong people. Surprise! The money doesn’t belong to Papi Greco. It belongs to the CIA. But the “why” of every character’s actions in this story isn’t readily understandable or even justified. It’s as if Kormakur (and Masters for that matter) forgot to make sure they had a tight story.
That said, Washington gives another awesome performance as a bad guy, whose really a good guy, but actually kind of bad. Washington almost carries this film with his acting prowess.
Wahlberg plays well off of Washington as the young-un in this duo. It’s a shame that Wahlberg, a talented actor, can never pick good movies to showcase that talent. He and Washington shoulder the film’s weak plot, carrying it across the Mexican border and back to America as if they were immigrants themselves.
Patton’s Debbie is a bit of an anomaly: In the position of being someone who is there for Bobby Trench, her demeanor gives the audience an uneasy feeling. There’s something not quite right about Debbie. On the flip side, Patton, who re-unites with her Déjà Vu co-star Washington, is becoming a leading lady in her own right. If Masters had created 2 Guns from Debbie’s perspective, that would have made for an awesome story.
2 Guns is a dude film with a weak plot and great actors. Nonetheless, the film doesn’t offend any female sensibilities, with the exception of a chicken-shooting scene. Yes, you read that correctly. A dude flick, indeed.