The stars' new movie, 2 Guns, has finally hit theaters—an action-packed shoot-'em-up about two undercover agents who, at first, don't know about the other's true identity but must eventually combine wits to infiltrate a drug cartel.
It's the first time the two actors have teamed up on screen. And judging by the early consensus, Hollywood appears to have found its next great buddy duo: Film critics are raving about the actors' chemistry and whiz-bang repartee.
The rest of the movie, directed by Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur, appears to be a mixed bag, though, with reviewers lamenting that, slick at it may seem, 2 Guns is simply shooting blanks. Here's the critical 411:
• "Big bangs and fast talk are the name of the genre game in 2 Guns, a slick, slippery thriller that taps into the anarchic playfulness that made the best American action flicks of the 1980s and '90s pop," raves The New York Times, calling Washington and Wahlberg's team-up "one of the better odd couples to bond and bicker since Mel met Danny."
• "2 Guns, caught me completely off guard in all the right ways," reveals Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman, who notes that the two stars "cut loose and seem to be having a blast swapping below-the-belt insults as a pair of undercover agents posing as drug dealers."
• "The picture survives its excesses thanks to winning chemistry between stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, who animate banter-heavy dialogue and click so well, one wonders why they haven't shared the screen before," offers The Hollywood Reporter.
• "The leads' banter, even the way they move around one another, creates a little ecosystem all its own," writes New York Magazine. "You never want to see them apart, and whenever they're separated, the movie loses energy...This is what some summer movies should be like—clever in a stupid way, and stupid in a clever way."
• The New York Post was less forgiving: "At first merely tangled, the plot gradually turns baroque in its silliness: This is the kind of movie that invites rude audience talkback, and gets it," the paper sniffs, labeling the film a "cheerfully ridiculous movie."
• "You believe the tired old B-movie plot might actually spring to life and relevance. No such luck," rants Rolling Stone. Nevertheless, the mag adds, "Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are great company. You'd want to have a beer with them, trade war stories and laugh your ass off."
• "Thousands of rounds of ammo are spent in 2 Guns, a brutal, complicated and sporadically funny movie that still seems slight," offers USA Today. "The ultra-complicated plot doesn't mask the fact that this is a cynical and derivative movie." Still, "the saving grace of the film is the chemistry between Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg," the paper opines.
• "The only thing simple and direct about 2 Guns is its title. This self-consciously nihilistic action movie is one slick piece of business as well as something of a double-edged sword," notes the Los Angeles Times. "Though individual set pieces are well done, the film inevitably leaves an empty taste behind it once it's done...Slickness can take you only so far."
• "2 Guns, with its hypercomplicated plot and semi-gritty, just-rolled-out-of-bed visuals, comes off as similar to 1,001 things we've already seen," rails The Village Voice. "The movie's pleasures, whatever they may be, stem from a kind of summer-diversion déjà vu."
• "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," scoffs The Washington Post.