Movie review: “2 Guns” offers an effective dose of fun

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From the August 1, 2013 edition

“2 Guns” might as well be called “2 Dudes” because it’s built on the two leads, Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, and succeeds mainly because of their chemistry. As an action flick isn’t great, but as a buddy comedy it’s pretty good.

The story starts in media res with Bobby (Washington) and Stig (Wahlberg) planning a bank robbery. They banter about the saying “Never rob a bank next to a dier with the best donuts in three counties,” signaling their playfully antagonistic relationship. A worse idea is to rob a bank used by cartel kingpin (Edward James Olmos).

The heist is successful, too successful — $3 million turns out to be $43 million — and our heroes forge an unlikely partnership to figure out what’s really going on. “2 Guns” employs some supposed twisty reveals, but all are easy to see coming.

That the plot is meh doesn’t really matter. Washington and Wahlberg inject a direct energy — and some genuine laughswhen they’re on screen. Good supporting performances by Olmos and a deliciously wicked Bill Paxton also help.

It’s rare for the usually distinguishedWashington to spit straight sarcasm and comedic dialog, but he’s olid, as usual. Wahlberg on the other hand is having a lot of fun hamming it up, and even though he gets the best material — telling Olmos “you look like a Mexican Einstein” — he steals the show. Some of Wahlberg’s best roles infuse comedy, and this is just another example.

The action sequences are mostly routine but director Baltasar Kormákur (“Contraband”) has a couple cool moments, and again “2 Guns” is saved by its leads. Washington and Wahlberg may not match the genre’s greats, Riggs and Murtaugh (“Lethal Weapon”) or Cates and Reggie (“48 Hrs.”), but they offer an effective dose of fun.