Mark Wahlberg reunites with Contraband (2012) director Baltasar Kormákur for 2 Guns (2013), a comedy-actioner based on the graphic novel of the same name. Denzel Washington plays the ying to Wahlberg’s yang and James Marsden, Paula Patton and Bill Paxton add star quality to the supporting cast. Washington and Wahlberg play two undercover agents from opposing bureaus, set up by there peers and completely unaware of one another’s true identities. After spending a year together, Naval intelligence officer Marcus Stigman (Wahlberg) and DEA agent Bobby Trench (Washington) have become inseparable.
Working undercover as part of a drug sting, together they believe their partners are on par with the criminals they have been tasked to expose. Millions of dollars are lost during a bundled attempt to infiltrate a Mexican cartel and Trench and Stigman are held accountable for the loss and suddenly negated by their superiors with both the Navy and DEA denying all knowledge of the pair’s existence. They soon come to realise that their only chance of surviving is to stick together. Hot on their trail is sadistic agent Earl (Paxton) and Naval officer Quince (Marsden), with Deb (Patton) thrown into the mix as Trench’s lover. The plot quickly escalates into a game of cat and mouse as the only people Trench and Stig can count on is, of course, each other.
Packed with bullets and explosions, 2 Guns brings the action Bad Boys (1995) style. Kormákur clearly works under the influence of Tony Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer, garnishing his scenes with a mist of deep heat and vivid colour that simultaneously nod towards the animated source material. The film looks great and moves with the frantic pace expected of an action movie. The comedy comes in the form of eye-rolling one-liners and the clashing schoolboy chemistry of the two protagonists. It’s refreshing to see Wahlberg revisit The Other Guys (2010) territory by not taking himself too seriously in an action role and along with Washington, the pair create a sense of fun that makes their labyrinth of a journey easier to consume.
Paxton is great as an intentionally laughable try-hard baddie yet Marsden, unfortunately takes his role so seriously that the word ‘comedy’ may have been left off his script. Sadly, as this is an archetypal ‘lad’s film’, Patton provides no more than a hot body and a pretty face as she is used, nude and abused in the only female role. A tragic waste of the talent she demonstrated in Precious (2009). The complicated plot becomes somewhat nonsensical at times but overall 2 Guns is an enjoyable ride providing you take into account that this is a film for the Fast & Furious market, where speed, gunfire and smarmy one-liners take precedence over plausibility.