2 Guns (R) ★★½

Review Date: August 1st, 2013

Despite boasting a couple of headliners who, at one point, might have sported enough gravitas as to pull the masses in to see any feature film, 2 Guns doesn't have a whole lot of draw. The well-worn buddy cop trope gets an interesting makeover with both parties playing undercover agents for independent organizations (Denzel Washington works for the DEA, while Mark Wahlberg is a Naval officer) unaware of the other's affiliation. Throughout, both parties manage performances that invite laughter, with Wahlberg's hybrid of badass and nebbish earning particular favor. But for some reason, the film just can't seem to muster up a full dish of appeal.

Maybe it's because 2 Guns seems to be, and proves to be, a film that sets the bulk of its attention on forwarding the criminal plotline. In this area, 2 Guns offers little in the new. Yes, the dramatic irony that both Washington and Wahlberg are officers of the law, and each under the impression that the other is a bona fide crook, is a twist with some flavor. But too heavily stocked with your standard cop movie tropes - inhabited by drug cartel baddie Edward James Olmos and sociopathic CIA man Bill Paxton - the film crumbles under its decision to take its story too seriously.

When it has fun, though, it has a good deal of it.

The high points of the film are not when Washington and Wahlberg are facing off with their laundry list of enemies - criminals, fellow lawmen, former allies, you name it... nobody likes these guys - but when the mismatched pair tustle verbally with one another.

Washington's Bobby Trench is a smooth, serious, acerbic would-be loner; Wahlberg's blathering Michael Stigman operates at peak energy and volume, wearing his lust for attention and friendship on his sleeve as he works tirelessly to win over his target/partner. Their chemistry, while nothing unprecedented in the buddy cop genre, is endearing, helping to pass the hour-and-a-half occupied by 2 Guns with just enough chuckles.

So if you're already there, having wandered accidentally into the wrong theater or affixed against your will to a diehard Denzel fan's idea of a perfect night out, buck up - the comedic scenes will get you through it. But if you're on the fence, they're not quite worth heading out to the theater for.

Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter