AP National Writer
"2 Guns"? Please. There are enough guns in this movie to arm a small country. Maybe a medium-sized one.
There are plenty of jokes in "2 Guns," this summer's latest variation on the buddy-cop theme, starring the engaging duo of Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. But one of the funniest things about it is that title.
Bullets fly every few seconds. By the end, it's impossible to count how many people have died; it's much easier to count who's still alive.
And that's a shame, because ultimately the bang-bang in "2 Guns," directed by Baltasar Kormakur, becomes so tiresome that you forget what should be the main focus of the film: The appealing, easy chemistry between the leads. What should have been an entertaining two hours with this charismatic pair becomes a somewhat exhausting affair that might more aptly be called "Boys and Their Toys."
And permit us here to express some nostalgia for a recent buddy-cop movie that also had chemistry between its stars: "The Heat," with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock. If they could carry a laugh-filled action film without frequent helpings of violence and torture, why can't the men?
The script, written by Blake Masters and based on the BOOM! Studios graphic novels by Steven Grant, is complicated -- perhaps unnecessarily so. We begin with Bobby (Washington) and Stig (Wahlberg) plotting a small-town bank robbery, each believing the other to be a disposable criminal, and each trying for his own reasons to seize the loot of drug lord Papi Greco (an excellent Edward James Olmos).
They soon discover that instead of the couple million bucks they were expecting to find, there's upward of $40 million in the bank. To whom does it belong? Well, wait, because first we need to tell you that each man also learns the other's real identity. Bobby, you see, is a DEA agent. And Stig? Navy intelligence.
Both are now on the run, pursued by a shady character, Earl, who says the money's his and wants it back (Bill Paxton, amusingly sleazy). Earl, who's always surrounded by henchmen, has an unnerving interrogation method: it's called Russian Roulette.
But it's not only Earl who's after the duo: Stig is persona non grata with the Navy now, after running afoul of a corrupt boss (James Marsden, his usual charm untapped in this role).
In short, the boys are in all kinds of trouble, and we haven't even told you about Bobby's girlfriend, Deb (Paula Patton), who also works for the DEA and loves Bobby, but might be dating somebody else who ALSO might be big trouble.
Confused? Well, at least you'll find yourself laughing often at the Washington-Wahlberg banter. These guys are funniest doing little things, like quibbling over how much you should tip a waitress -- just after they've set a huge fire to the diner she works in and the place is about to blow. Or discussing their relationship -- Stig's the touchy-feely one, hoping, he says, for an "Ebony and Ivory" sort of union. He wants to work "together." Bobby wants to work "in the same area code."
But for each amusing exchange, there's a gratuitous scene that dampens the proceedings. One of the worst involves the torture of chickens. Yes, that's what we said.
There's also a juvenile obsession with male private parts, and guns aimed at said private parts.
It all ends in an orgiastic shootout, of course. Will there be a sequel? Well, we'd like to see more of Washington and Wahlberg together. Hey, maybe they could join McCarthy and Bullock in THEIR sequel?
"2 Guns," a Universal Studios release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for "violence throughout, language and brief nudity." Running time: 109 minutes. Two stars out of four.
MPPA rating definition for R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
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