A DEA agent and a Naval Intelligence officer find themselves on the run after a botched attempt to infiltrate a drug cartel. While fleeing, they learn the secret of their shaky alliance: they are both undercover agents.
2 Guns is reminiscent of buddy cop movies in the late eighties and nineties. Unlike a lot of recent throwback 80’s action films, it tastefully retains much of the fun factor by concentrating on character and dialogue and removing some of the modern tropes that have gone stale, like the oversaturation of pop culture references. With its setup and buddy dynamic, at times it actually reminded me of the 1996 Adam Sandler and Damon Wayons buddy cop movie Bulletproof.
What elevated 2 Guns from standard action fare were exactly the snappy dialogue and the buddy dynamic between Washington and Wahlberg. The two lead actors create a believable long-time friendship and it gave the movie a sizzling charm that you just can’t look away from. Watching Walhberg and Washington rapidly throw zingers back and forth alone made the price of admission. After seeing his facetious performance in this film, it’s easy now to imagine Mark Wahlberg taking over the role of Tony Stark in future Marvel films.
The film has a good supporting cast. James Marsden and Edward James Olmos seem overqualified for these supporting roles. It’s nice to see them but they have too little time to truly shine. Paula Patton is cast in a seemingly intelligent female role, but is ultimately there for her sex appeal. Bill Paxton is the only one who gets to properly chew up some scenery as a scary CIA agent with a flair for torturing his victims.
The story moved along fast like a shark, for fear that stopping for a thoughtful pause would ruin its momentum and shatter the illusion of how complicated the plot seems. The action scenes are fun. More importantly, they are visible and you can follow what’s going on. When it came to the finale, the film said “Screw it!” to all the dramatic buildup from the first two acts and serves a lesser solution to its conflict. Had it been a slower moving story with less charming leads, I would have considered the finale a cop out ending and been pissed.
But this time, I just went with it. I’m a sucker for buddy cop movies. 2 Guns just oozes old school charm, and charm can go a long way.
21 Jump Street by Phil Lord and Chris Miller