Film Review: 2 Guns

Bank heist goes wrong, leading to a war between crooks and government agents in a buddy-cop comedy with vicious overtones.

Fun to watch but almost instantly forgettable,   is Hollywood's latest attempt to turn comic books into box-office gold. Boasting an enviable cast and a needlessly complicated plot, the movie works best during the easygoing banter between its two stars. Viewers may decide they can wait to watch at home.

Some fancy flashbacks introduce Bobby (Denzel Washington) and Stig (Mark Wahlberg), crooks casing out a small-town bank not far from the Mexican border. They plan to rob Mexican drug dealer Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos), but find an extra $40 million stashed in safe-deposit boxes.

The two learn they are both undercover agents, but not until Stig wounds Bobby during their getaway. Bobby turns to Deb (Paula Patton), a DEA agent, for help, while Stig finds out that he has been double-crossed by his Navy colleagues. Overnight, Stig and Bobby become targets of the DEA, Navy Intelligence, the CIA, and Papi's enforcers.

Betrayals continue on both sides, with Stig and Bobby alternately capturing villains or being taken prisoner. The heroes fight each other as much as their opponents, but ultimately team up for a final confrontation on Papi's ranch in Mexico.

Working from a comic book by Steven Grant, screenwriter Blake Masters gives plenty of space for Bobby and Stig to spar, and not as much time for supporting characters to make their mark. Paula Patton is a lovely femme fatale, and James Marsden (Stig's treacherous buddy) is effective enough, but Bill Paxton overplays his role as the meanest heavy in the plot.

As Bobby, Washington gives another effortless performance that dominates the movie. Always at ease, he shambles through scenes that would test other actors. And patter like "You're saying that to say what?" might actually work in the real world. Wahlberg seems to struggle at times to emulate his partner's swagger, but scores points with some winningly bad jokes.

Director Baltasar Kormákur worked previously with Wahlberg on Contraband, a standard B-movie that promised more than it delivered. Here he adds style and polish to material that doesn't always deserve it—like helicopter shots for a simple car chase—but fails to set up crucial scenes convincingly.

Not a lot of 2 Guns makes much sense, from the loot to the torture and massive amounts of weaponry on display. The action scenes look punishing but rarely advance the story, and Stig and Bobby are too smart—or should be—to fall for the frequent plot reversals. Not only that, but viewers should be able to predict every turn in the story. That doesn't mean 2 Guns isn't entertaining, Like the B-movies of an earlier generation, it's fast, tough and smarter than it has to be.