Big guns, cool cars, tough talk and hats rule the day in “2 Guns,” a cliche-ridden action comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington in which the chemistry between the two stars packs far more heat than the explosions. Playing bank robbers with a hidden agenda — a classic cake-and-eat-it scenario that allows the audience to root for the bad guys — Wahlberg and Washington prove yet again why they’re among the most beloved male stars today, as they bro-out and bang-bang their way into our hearts and each other’s.
Still, even with the proven charms of its leading men, the degree to which you buy “2 Guns” depends on whether, one year after the shooting in Aurora, Colo., and seven months after Newtown, you don’t mind seeing guns used as props, fetishes, phallic symbols and, most tastelessly, jokes: In the movie’s stylized, hyper-violent world, flesh wounds are tantamount to the offhanded one-liners the stars toss back and forth like so many verbal Frisbees.
If the reckless gunplay is offensive, the verbal repartee is too often stale: One running gag has to do with police officers and doughnuts, which was already hackneyed when “The Simpsons” first went on the air. Along with the slow-motion gun fights, over-the-top truck chases, brutal torture involving a baseball bat and an angry bull, and an over-arching tone of crass cynicism, “2 Guns” feels like it’s all been done before, whether by John Woo, Michael Bay or any number of their CGI-happy clones.
What sets “2 Guns” director Baltasar Kormakur (“Contraband”) apart is that he has Wahlberg and Washington, each doing what he does best: Wahlberg playing the trusting, over-eager puppy dog with the eyes of a sniper and Washington keeping it cool under an assortment of porkpie hats and shades. (The film was written by Blake Masters, from a graphic novel series by Steven Grant.) The two are ably supported by Edward James Olmos, Bill Paxton, James Marsden, Paula Patton and — hello! — Fred Ward.
But the sum of even those great parts winds up being just as disposable as so many of this summer’s boys-and-their-toys bullpucky. Admittedly, though, “2 Guns” contains at least one great line, as one of the characters tells Patton, “I meant to love you.” Funny, that’s exactly how I felt about the movie.
R. At area theaters. Contains violence throughout, profanity and nudity. 109 minutes.