Of all the movies of Summer 2013, I didn’t think that both the funniest and most action-packed would be 2 Guns, but that might wind up being the case. This is one of the silliest movies of recent memory, and works especially well because of that fact. It reminds me a lot of 2004’s Cellular, which is just so ridiculous that I couldn’t help but love watching it. And in some ways, I did love watching 2 Guns. I smiled and laughed during it more than any other movie this year.
That isn’t to say that 2 Guns is a great film, but it’s definitely entertaining. It has a certain charm to it and by the time it kicks into high gear, it turns into something that is absolutely insane and almost has to be seen to be believed. With the absurd and convoluted plotting, the interesting relationship dynamic between its two leads, and the over-the-top silliness to its action scenes, I can’t help but feel like this will wind up as one of the movies of the summer that is actually worth watching, and considering the lackluster year that it has been, that’s a good thing.
The plot revolves around two individuals. The first is Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington), an undercover DEA Agent. The second is Marcus Stigman (Mark Wahlberg), an undercover Navy SEAL. The opening scene has them robbing a bank together. Neither knows that the other is working undercover. Through events far too complicated and time consuming to relay, they both wind up being betrayed and hunted down by one of many groups of people, because money stolen is a good enough reason to kill good people.
Seriously, not only does the film have Mexican drug lords chasing down our heroes, but it also has the CIA and rogue Navy SEALs. And you better believe that the climactic showdown involves all of them, all while money rains down from the sky and bulls run rampant while guns are a blazing. If you’re not laughing by this point in the film, you clearly don’t get what director Baltasar Kormákur was going for. That, or he didn’t know what he was going for. Either way, the result is something that you can’t take seriously but you can definitely have fun with.
The film then has Bobby and Marcus teaming up in order to (1) take down the various groups, (2) acquire the money and potentially give it to one of the groups vying for it and (3) save the girl, Deb (Paula Patton), because saving the girl is important to all action heroes. There are twists and turns — many of which you’ll see coming but some which are so ridiculous that you won’t — along the way, and the film moves at a brisk pace, lest you start to become even slightly bored.
And, you know what? It actually has a little bit of intelligence to it, even if it’s hidden underneath all of the insanity that comes from the plot and its execution. There’s a bit of insight into corruption in certain agencies — brought out most clearly in a cameo by Fred Ward — as well as a couple of things to mention about the Mexican drug wars. I’m not going to say that 2 Guns is a smart movie, but it’s not completely intellectually vapid.
A lot of the fun of the movie comes not only from the action scenes, which thankfully aren’t loaded with too much CGI, but from the exchanges of dialogue between Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. Washington doesn’t do many comedies, but his deadpan delivery worked well in contrast with Wahlberg’s energy and far less serious demeanor. Some of their dialogue is hilarious, and they are what make 2 Guns more of a comedy than an action film. The parodical action scenes make it even funnier.
In addition to the two leads, there are some fun actors in supporting roles, all playing caricatures. James Marsden is the leader of the rogue Navy SEALs. Bill Paxton is a CIA Agent tasked with tracking down the money, and does so using ruthless interrogation methods. Edward James Olmos is a drug kingpin. They all get some great scenes, especially the last two. There isn’t much depth to the characters, but I think that’s intentional. And because of how over-the-top they are, that actually works to the film’s advantage.
All in all, 2 Guns is one of the funniest and most enjoyable movies I’ve seen all year, and I recommend giving it a watch, especially if you’re a fan of silly, over-the-top action comedies, much in the same spirit as Cellular, which is my go-to example of such a film. It has a twisty plot, ridiculous action scenes, good chemistry with the leads, funny dialogue, strong supporting performances, and is a good time as long as you don’t take it too seriously. I think it’s worth seeing.