In February 2012, Denzel Washington starred in a buddy-ish action thriller with Ryan Reynolds, Safe House, that went on to become a surprise hit that grossed $126.3 million domestically and another $81.7 internationally. 2 Guns feels like a quick and cheap attempt at reaping the same rewards as Safe House by applying nearly the exact same model. While 2 Guns isn’t awful, it certainly falls short and feels like a bad photocopy.
Ryan Reynolds is to Safe House as Mark Wahlberg is to 2 Guns – the second half of the Denzel Duo, only Wahlberg’s character is not even close to being as defined or focused as Reynolds’. I enjoy a nice mouthy and comically fit Wahlberg – like in The Departed. He ran his mouth plenty in Pain & Gain, but the wretched screenplay and awful direction completely took the fun out of it. When he’s mouthy in 2 Guns, for the most part, it completely works. The role he’s in is worthy of it. But it’s a shame that 2 Guns lacks focus, originality and memorable content. As for Washington, unfortunately, he glides through his role here just as he did in last year’s Flight, never really standing out or making a difference.
Washington and Wahlberg play a duo of criminals doing risky business with an unpredictable and dangerous Mexican cartel boss played by the legendary Edward James Olmos. Just minutes into the movie, we learn that each of the two are undercover agents trying to take down the cartel, but neither is aware of the other’s true identity. Washington works for the DEA, Wahlberg for the Navy. They both look at one another as a criminal dummy who will go down with the cartel when all is said and done. Little do they know that their off-the-books plan is about to turn every powerful agency and cartel worker against them and that their only way to stay alive is by working together. Imagine Enemy of the State and Safe House thrown into a blender – only the combination that pours out afterward is left chunky. Nothing about 2 Guns is smooth. It plods along, but not without some fun moments along the way.
Even though I’m not giving 2 Guns a solid recommendation, when compared to the other recent action thrillers – I’m talking about you, RED 2 – 2 Guns is quite a bit ahead of the competition. If you’re caught up on your theatrical releases, then 2 Guns might be a worthy time-waster over this weekend – but if you have other safer options available, I suggest taking them.
Photo credit: Universal