Tired, predictable, charmless, and fundamentally not exciting, 2 Guns misfires in its blatant attempts to capture the magic of the buddy cop movies of yesteryear. This film doesn’t even get close to the heights of Tango & Cash or Another 48 HRS, let alone any buddy film which may have starred Mel Gibson or Danny Glover.
The major problem lies in the screenplay and characterization, or lack thereof. Writing this review not even 24 hours after having seen the film I can remember barely anything noteworthy, which speaks volumes about the quality of a film which, in a genre I truly love, really should have left some impression on me. The screenplay by Blake Masters reeks of an attempt to write ‘cool’ dialogue in the style of Quentin Tarantino, Shane Black or Christopher McQuarrie. But it is nothing more than an amateurish imitation, lacking the vital talent involved to make that kind of dialogue flow and pop off the screen. The relationship between the two leads (Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg), crucial to any buddy film’s success, never clicks or feels organic and natural (or as natural as it can get with this type of film). Washington and Wahlberg try their best but they cannot make it come across as anything other than the below-par effort it is.
The plot is as simple as it gets but lost me very early on with its lack of well-crafted characterization, despite the screenplay working overtime to make the characters lively and likeable. The flashbacks are a mess and derail the story with more attempts to be like a Tarantino film; they only serve to fan the flames of the miserable humour the screenplay tries to invoke. The film’s idea of humor is to have Mark Wahlberg talk like a 21 year old frat boy rather than the highly skilled Navy Officer he is supposed to be; the comedy and characters do not match and only goes to show how shallow the screenplay actually is. You may laugh (and I did smile a few times) but the gags and smart talk soon wear thin and just feel like scripted gags rather than genuine lines coming from a genuine character. Compare this to how Joe Hallenbeck in The Last Boy Scout or Reggie Hammond in 48 HRS talks and you’ll see what I mean.
All of this means only the action scenes are left to salvage the film. Sadly, the film delivers precious little excitement and not a single original set piece or idea. Though hardly dull or boring the action cannot salvage the film because the screenplay has irreversibly damaged any investment you need to care what happens. If the two leads were replaced by Cuba Gooding Jr. and Paul Walker, and this was released directly to DVD with the budget slashed in half, then 2 Guns would be just as effective.
2 Guns might serve if you’re looking to have some ‘brainless fun’, but they don’t make ‘brainless fun’ like they used to; it’s a sadly missed lost art.