When a movie starts with two guns, you know it's going to have a complicated, multihanded standoff by the end. Following the hail of bullets to the fiery conclusion of 2 Guns proves to be an entertainingly escapist journey.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg find a companionable groove as the film's titular guns. As the film opens, Washington's Bobby Trench and Wahlberg's "Stig" Stigman appear to be partners in crime setting up a bank robbery in the small, fictional town of Tres Cruces, N.M. Each man is an undercover agent of the law: Bobby is a DEA agent, and Stig works for the military as an NCIS officer. But they aren't aware of each other's true identities. Both are out to capture Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos), the bullish head of a Mexican drug cartel. The two of them spar for a while, which makes for some physically rollicking moments. After the bank robbery and the mutual discovery of their actual identities, the two men become real partners. Earl (Bill Paxton), a particularly smarmy and heartless antagonist, enters the fray, laying sole claim to the stolen millions. By the time Earl's identity is revealed, the number of government entities found on the money trail is staggering.
Based on the graphic novels by Steven Grant, 2 Guns is the most human of comic-book adaptations to come around this summer. The screenplay is by Brotherhood creator Blake Masters. The repartee between Bobby and Stig is swift and clever, and the plot is twisty enough to keep the audience engaged without becoming unnecessarily complicated. The story thread gets a bit tangled when we meet Deb (Paula Patton), Bobby's cheating DEA girlfriend, but overall, Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar KormÃkur has turned into a reliably adept director of Hollywood action movies. Although his Hollywood films haven't reached the level of mordant humor displayed in his Icelandic debut, 101 ReykjavÃk, 2 Guns comes pretty close.