Humor and strong acting balance violent action in ‘2 Guns’

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in ‘2 Guns.’ Rated R, 109 min. Universal Pictures, 2013.

“2 Guns,” based on a series of graphic novels, features a pair of rollicking, winking performances by Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, who give their characters enough personality to stand up to some questionable holes in the multi-layered plot.

The two are tough and witty bank robbers and smugglers who pull off a job bigger than either expected, drawing some wild consequences. To start with, they were both undercover (Washington’s character with the DEA, Wahlberg’s with Navy intelligence), but are forced to work together when their cover is blown. Paula Patton makes a good romantic foil for Washington in the brief scenes they have together.

Facing off against the duo are three sets of villains: James Marsden’s corrupt Naval commander, Edward James Olmos’ Mexican drug cartel chief, and Bill Paxton as the sadistic man who wants his money back. Paxton comes this close to taking the insanity too far in the role, but his unpredictability keeps you guessing, even if the gunfire-filled finale showdown is a foregone conclusion in a movie that is, after all, named “2 Guns.”

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