Is it possible to work both sides of the law without getting burned from all angles? What happens when it turned out to be a lot harder to do the right thing? That's part of the premise behind the DVD release of "2 Guns," which had two government agents struggling to keep their morals in check along with staying alive. The results have been done before with much stronger success, but the disorganized story of who was good and evil made it hard to fully enjoy the movie in the end.
"2 Guns" followed two undercover agents who shared a common goal to catch the bad guys in the act, but they also distrusted each other just the same. DEA agent Robert "Bobby" Trench (Denzel Washington) and U.S. naval intelligence officer Marcus "Stig" Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) worked for the better part of a year in an effort to destroy a Mexican cartel from the ground up. What they didn't know was that they were both goverment agents with the same purpose. Both men believed that the other was a criminal. Their mutual goal was to take down Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) by any means necessary, which included robbing a bank where he kept his momeny. The robbery ended up going off without a hitch, but it was the getaway that was flawed from the start. Stigman shot Trench and left him to die in the desert, but he was betrayed by his commanding officer (James Marsden) as well as he took the movie for himself. It also turned out that the money Stigman and Trench stole belonged to the CIA, which caused a ruthless man named Earl (Bill Paxton) to appear. Earl managed to set up Trench for a murder that he didn't commit. He was forced to work with Stigman to clear both of their names. Stigman and Trench turned to Trench's colleague/handler Deb (Paula Patton), but it appeared that her motives weren't as clear to either one of them. It was also apparent that Trench and Stigman weren't going to have careers to go back to, which led them to forming a dangerous plan that could get them both killed. Will both of them survive their failed operation or die trying?
In terms of questions, the movie managed to pose a very big one as to who was truly good and who was truly evil. Unfortunately, the movie answered that question by proving that money could make anyone corruptible given the right amount of pressure and influence. No one was safe from the sway of millions of dollars being at their disposal. Ultimately, the movie's strongest sequence came in the form of a tense standoff between all of the film's players and a car full of cash. All it took was one perfectly timed explosion before the bullets truly started flying. It was also kind of disappointing that the movie took an overly cynical turn as it showcased how no one could turn away from the temptation money had to offer them, even Patton's Deb couldn't avoid the sway either. Sadly, Patton's character wasn't entirely developed beyond being the disposable femme fatale who was tragically written off before viewers could register the true extent of her deception. Patton showed some early promise in her scenes with Washington's Trench, but the sudden change in her character made it hard to fathom since there were no signs pointing in that direction. If the movie added a few more clues, Deb's betrayal and shocking demise would've been a little more shocking rather than a mere blip in the story. It's a shame because Patton had a playful rapport with Washington that could've brought a few more memorable scenes and made her exit all the more sad. Another issue with the movie was the fact that the plot took way too long to get to the pivotal confrontation scene. Too much time was spent on setting up the story that the logic of the story ended up being ignored in the end.
As for breakout performances, Washington and Wahlberg led the pack as their very different characters slowly developed a buddy dynamic that took too long to get to the point. Washington provided Trench with the right amount of confidence and swagger that made him transition perfectly from being a DEA agent and a criminal. He allowed his character to bounce from charming to lethal without blinking an eye. Washington's most memorable scene came when he realized that he couldn't save someone that he cared about from being killed based on his own mistake. He allowed his grief and disappointment to wash over his face before the need for revenge took over for the duration of the movie. Wahlberg, on the other hand, had the challenging of making the usually chatty Stigman someone viewers can relate to, or wish that someone would silence him for a change. He made Stigman someone who could charm a waitress in an effort to distract them while he made plans to rob a bank or help blow up a diner. Wahlberg's strongest scene came when he made a last ditch attempt to clear his name by sneaking onto a naval base, but he was saddened to realize that his plan was all for nothing when the admiral failed to clear him of any wrongdoing. An honorable mention should definitely go to Paxton for portraying the movie's ultimate wild card villain because he managed to make a somewhat cartoonish villain lethal and entertaining at the same, which was no small feat.
Verdict: Despite a ludicrous plot, Washington and Wahlberg had a dynamic rapport that would work in a much better written movie that allowed them to demonstrate what they could both bring to the table.
DVD Score: 2 out of 5 stars
Movie Rating: R
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)