Given the narrative changeups, endless games of double and triple crossings, and other attention-grabbing antics for the attention-deficit, it is not surprising to learn that the almost bodacious buddy “cop” movie 2 Guns takes as its source a graphic novel series. A certain detectable comic-bookishness buzzes beneath the nervous surface, making for a midsummer’s romp at least half true to its fun-loving and genre-tweaking intentions. But ultimately, as things unravel and reel off into the land of too-muchness, we realize why the film has hit the multiplexes in the no-man’s-land of August.
Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur, maker of the lauded 2000 film 101 Reykjavik, brings to the job a properly gleeful and excessive variation on the age-old theme of the comic-action buddy-cop genre. He has good material to work with in the form of game and watchable Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as the “2 guns” in question, who traverse the dark worlds of Mexican drug runners on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border, a bank robbery gone much better than expected, and wisecracking dialogue mixed in with the ample chase ’n’ gunplay moments.
An important tactic in the film’s plot (and tangled subplots) is the art of keeping us guessing about who’s who, who works for whom, and who is corrupt in the web of deceit involving those presumably trusted institutions CIA, DEA, and Navy. There are choice acting turns amid the hokum, with Edward James Olmos as a coolly sinister drug kingpin with a bullish side, Bill Paxton as a bad apple CIA shakedown specialist, and the beautiful Paula Patton as a femme fatale who, like most characters except for our noble heroes, walks a wide line between good and evil.
While there are entertainment values along the way, especially by our lowered late-summer standards, in the end, 2 Guns (which could more accurately be called 200 Guns) is a well-intended blur of a comic-action number, at once over the top and under the bottom.