Expert stars hit action target in ‘2 Guns’

A bullet-riddled bromance with a distinctly ’80s tang, “2 Guns” succeeds in exactly the ways Michael Bay’s overblown and similarly intentioned “Pain &Gain” failed. The movie’s violent and funny and coasts on the charisma of its stars.

The two films share a star, Mark Wahlberg, which makes the comparison even more pointed. As chirpy and enthusiastic as ever, Wahlberg divides billing with Denzel Washington in this one; the two are scamming a Mexican drug kingpin (Edward James Olmos) as they plot to rob a small-town bank.

A few key revelations change their status, and they find themselves at the opposite ends of gun barrels as often as they stand side by side. Their allegiances might shift, but the selling point of a movie like this is that the stars carry guns — the targets hardly matter.

The match of the two actors is better than it might sound. Yes, they work in different modes: Washington is grouchy and skeptical, Wahlberg is exuberant. This helps the picture, since the two are supposed to be at odds even when they agree, which isn’t often.

Washington has a nominal girlfriend (Paula Patton), while Wahlberg’s romantic life is reduced to serial winking. This is a buddy movie, so the important connection is between the two men, anyway.

The winking is one of a handful of running gags painfully overworked by screenwriter Blake Masters, who adapted Steven Grant’s graphic novel.

Masters has an ear for hard-boiled male lingo, and there are fat, greasy supporting roles for Bill Paxton, Fred Ward and James Marsden.

The director is Baltasar Kormakur, the Icelandic filmmaker who made last year’s “Contraband” (also with Wahlberg) much more fun than it deserved to be. “2 Guns” doesn’t have that film’s berserk energy, and after a while the buddy stuff grows tiresome; could there have been one interesting female character in the mix?

I had a hard time sorting out the plot, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make sense. At the very least, it is best not to ask questions of logic when attempting to parse the motivations of the main characters. Luckily for this movie, “2 Guns” has a pair of experienced movie stars to paper over the holes.

“2 Guns” (2½ stars)

Not much in the way of logic, but this movie successfully rests its violence and humor on the shoulders of two expert movies stars, Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. They’re setting up a Mexican drug lord and working on a bank heist, but the nonsensical plot matters less than the ’80s-style action-movie bromance.

Rated: R for violence, nudity, language.

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marsyville, Stanwood, Meridian, Sundance, Thornton Place, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.

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