It takes a lot of elements to make a strong buddy cop movie. In addition to getting the action and comedy right, there must be chemistry between the leads and their relationship must be compelling.
“Lethal Weapon” was probably the apotheosis of these movies. In that movie you had two interesting people put together: the half crazy, suicidal cop (Mel Gibson) and the straight shooter (Danny Glover) who was just trying to survive their partnership. They become close and at the end, Gibson gives the bullet he was saving to shoot himself with to Glover as a gift. Their friendship saved his life. The moment isn’t quite earned, but at least it’s something.
“2 Guns” doesn’t have any of that going for it. The movie is generic right down to its title. It might as well have been called “Buddy Cop Action Movie.” Two men of the law, Bobby (Denzel Washington) and Stig (Mark Wahlberg) are forced to team up to take down an array of bad guys. There’s nothing very compelling or original about them or their relationship. They’re supposed to be a mismatched couple and thus have conflict, but only because this is a strict genre piece and the script requires it. The conflict is contrived and vanishes quickly. Stig wants to be Bobby’s buddy, but Bobby doesn’t much care for him. He got shot by Stig, which is reason enough to hold a grudge. But really it’s because he doesn’t like Stig’s personality.
Wahlberg gives a good performance as the more likeable gun. He has a lot of energy and delivers some funny lines. Unfortunately, most of the comedy is spoiled by the ads. Washington delivers his standard persona. Most movie stars play a mix of their character and a consistent screen persona because the persona creates a familiarity with audiences. But I find that Washington doesn’t get the balance right and often plays the same character. It’s not that he’s bad, it’s just that it’s tiring to see him play the same guy over and over.
The plot has Bobby and Stig trying to bust each other for a bank robbery gone horribly right (they end up with more than $43 million from a small town bank). But neither is aware that the other is an undercover government agent. Things become a little more complicated as more parties step forward to take the money, some representing government interests, others representing themselves. These added complications are meant to build tension and add intrigue, but it doesn’t really do the trick. This is because there are no secrets or big plans. Everyone just wants the money so they can have it. And when it’s all over, things are resolved in an overly simple way.
The action scenes are mostly shootouts including one well-crafted one in the desert with Stig and his superiors who betray him. Unfortunately, the final shootout where all the forces come together in a smorgasbord of confrontation isn’t very exciting.
To the movie’s credit, it sticks to good old-fashioned in-camera special-effects and avoids the tawdry CGI and confusing shaky cam that plague most recent action movies. In fact, the movie belongs to the action movies of 20-30 years ago with its old-fashioned action scenes, and when buddy movies were a thing. There’s even the obligatory female nudity shoehorned in to guarantee the R rating by the MPAA. Yup, that takes me back.
**1/2 (out of 5)
David jackson can be reached at email@example.com