Dependable the charms of Denzel Washington and the allure of Funky Bunch alumni Mark Wahlberg may be, their pairing within 2 Guns is an odd one. Baltasar Kormákur’s second of four flirtations with Hollywood sees the team-up of a Naval Intelligence officer and a DEA agent, taking down the relatively broad and loose ensemble of mob figures and criminal chancers. With a black Dodge Challenger and a Starsky & Hutch attitude between the leading pair, 2 Guns hits the ground fumbling and never quite recovers from there. It strikes up moments of quality, but moments are not good when spread so thinly. Adapting itself to the action tropes of the modern era, but never quite committing to them, 2 Guns is shaky from the start and degrades itself from there.
There is a coolness always present to Washington throughout 2 Guns, but the record scratch moments and bickering-couple chemistry between him and Wahlberg weaken the core of the film. As the building around them burns to the ground, they bicker about tipping a waitress who left some seconds before. It builds towards slow-motion, poor CGI and a quick-cut to the title. Everything 2 Guns could wish to display about both these characters is brought into the opening moments. Kormákur never builds beyond that. It is usually enough to have Wahlberg and Washington play themselves. They are staples of the action genre and know the ropes with an adept quality, but are not given enough time to feel around for a substantial angle, where these characters can grow into more than just caricature-like action heroes.
Perhaps the key issue here is that Washington and Wahlberg work well with dialogue, and there is little of that here. Nothing of relative importance, anyway. When they are given the opportunity to, they do dominate the scenes they feature in. Firmly planting themselves as the strongest performer on set, 2 Guns shies away from their finest qualities in the hopes of utilising tension and thrills. It never quite works, but Kormákur has a few moments of fascinatingly strange intrigue. Loud-mouthed Michael Stigman (Wahlberg) and fellow loud-mouth Robert Trench (Washington) are cut from the same cloth, and that leaves two unique performers lacking variety.
Blowing out its big-budget with frivolous moments of enjoyable action and less-than-stellar chemistry, 2 Guns finds the fun in explosions and light espionage. Kormákur never convincingly portrays these two agents in over their heads. We never find them in any set danger, and somehow their silver tongue and adaptability to action sees them off well enough. Excelling in all the skills necessary, deep undercover and in over their heads, there is room for 2 Guns to take us deep down into the depths of how far heroes will go to uncover bad actions of groups they have infiltrated. Kormákur and his cast shy away from that, either they do not know how to get there, or what to do when they get there. Neither is an issue for 2 Guns, which feels like an empty romp through the double-agent designs.