Starring: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Bill Paxton
Directed by: Baltasar Kormakur (“Contraband”)
Written by: Blake Masters (debut)

When thinking about actor/director teams of recent memory, duos like Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, or the late Tony Scott and Denzel Washington come to mind. One that might not be at the forefront of people’s minds is the duo of Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur and Mark Wahlberg. Reteaming for the second time in as many years (Kormakur directed last year’s “Contraband,” a remake of an Icelandic film in which Kormakur actually starred in), “2 Guns” sets out to put the duo on the map as a new formidable team.

With their true identities unknown to each other, Undercover DEA Agent Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and undercover naval intelligence officer Marcus Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) try to infiltrate a drug cartel and take the other down with them. Both find themselves being chased down by Stigman’s crooked Naval bosses and an angry CIA agent (Bill Paxton) who they mistakenly stole the money from. Together they must team up to track down the money, which was taken from them, and stay alive.

Though not straying too far from characters seen in recent films like “Ted,” this is the kind of role and film Wahlberg does best. Throughout the film, Wahlberg uses his natural humor and is able to effortlessly put entire scenes on his back. In Washington’s case, it almost feels like he’s just along for the ride. It isn’t to say that his performance is lackluster, but it’s the kind that seems to be the norm for Washington these days. Besides the two leads, Paxton plays a deliciously evil Southern villain to a tee. He is a blast to watch. All his lines, including the hilarious ones, are delivered with total perfection. You can clearly tell Paxton is eating up the role.

What “2 Guns” really succeeds at is hammering down a consistent and loose tone. Jokes have a constant presence and are utilized in appropriate times. In fact, “2 Guns” packs some legitimately big laughs and one-liners with Wahlberg being the culprit in most cases. Even when some lines toe the line of absurdity, the film has a certain self-awareness that makes what’s happening or being said fun, rather than corny. While Kormakur is certainly capable of staging an action sequence, these scenes in particular are probably the weakest point of the film.

The plot itself becomes over-complicated in the third act with plenty of plot twists and double-crossing. Still, the film never loses its sense of a good time.  At its core, the driving force behind “2 Guns” is the performances of its actors, chiefly Wahlberg and Paxton. Even with all the gunfire, bloodshed, and explosions (and dumb title aside), at the end of the day, the successful pairing of Wahlberg and Washington is what makes it worthwhile.

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