Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) is an undercover DEA Agent trying to take down drug lord Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) for dealing cocaine. After being given a two week deadline by his boss, and facing a major set-back when the man he was trying to flip on Papi winds up dead, he takes some advice from his acquaintance Stig (Mark Wahlberg) and agrees to rob the bank where Papi keeps the money from his operation. Unfortunately for him, Stigman's an undercover US Navy officer and the bank they just robbed was full of the CIA's money. Who really want it back. Because it's their money. Neither Stig or Bobby realize the other isn't a lowlife crook. Hilarity Ensues.
The film provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion:
- There are several shots in the opening of trains barrelling down the tracks, an allusion to Washington's roles in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and Unstoppable. Later, when two wannabe border patrol officers confuse Bobby for being Muslim, he responds with a Muslim greeting — a reference to his titular role in the biopic Malcolm X.
- This is not the first time one of Mark Wahlberg's characters has shot down a helicopter.
- Affably Evil: Earl and Papi especially.
- And the Adventure Continues: See Bookends.
- And This Is for...: "That's for Little Toro."
- Apologetic Attacker: Stig apologizes immediately after shooting Bobby in the shoulder, mutters an unheard apology after sniping one of his former Navy buddies, and later apologizes after reflexively punching a Navy officer in the face.
- Arc Words: "That's correct".
- Back-to-Back Poster: The poster does this with Back-to-Back Badasses; the main duo of operatives shoot back to back as money rains down around them.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Bobby and Stig briefly in the climax.
- Bag of Kidnapping: One of Quince's men tries to put a bag over Stig's head and drag him to an uncertain fate after he violates Quince's orders and leaves Bobby alive. Stig sees it coming and decks the guy.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Papi, Quince, and Earl.
- Bittersweet Ending: A rather glossed over one. Stig and Bobby kill all the men who wanted them dead and have some of the money left over from the job, yet Bobby is still presumably considered responsible for his boss's murder and Stig has still been dishonorably discharged from the Navy who decided to throw him under the bus.
- Bookends: The movie begins and ends with the main duo sitting in a diner scoping out a bank for a robbery, only this time they know they're robbing a CIA bank.
- Boom, Headshot!: How Papi kills Deb.
- Brick Joke: Bobby getting a '64 Impala for Papi.
- About halfway through the movie, Bobby promises that he's still going to shoot Stig when they're done with everything, to get back at him for shooting Bobby in the shoulder earlier. After the climatic shootout, he does just that.
- Comically Missing the Point: Bobby warns Stig about mouthing off at the mooks because their heads could end up in a bowling bag. Stig says it wouldn't be possible, because both of their heads wouldn't fit in one bag.
- The female clerk at the bank completely missed Bobby's joke about the free toaster.
- Cool Car: The '64 Chevy Impala. Stig's 1970 Dodge Challenger also counts. The first generation Plymouth minivan, on the other hand, averts this so very hard.
- Donut Mess with a Cop:Bobby: Didja ever hear the saying, 'Never rob a bank thats across from a diner that has the best donuts in three counties?'
Stig: Thats not a saying.
Bobby: Yes it is.
Stig: No its not. I get what youre saying, but its not a saying.
Bobby: Its a saying.
Bobby: Its a saying now.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Cartel kingpin Papi has a wife and son he shows brief concern for.
- Faux Affably Evil: Earl performs Cold-Blooded Torture in the first three scenes he's in while talking as casually and jovially as... well, Bill Paxton could.
- Flipping the Bird: Stig flips off one of his Navy buddies.
- Friendly Sniper: Stigman.Stig: When have you ever seen me miss?
- How We Got Here: The movie starts with Bobby and Stig blowing up a diner and then jumps back about a week and shows the two working together while not realizing the other's status.
- Hypocritical Humor: Stig yells at some guys for shooting at chickens for sport... while eating a chicken leg. Lampshaded by Bobby, to which Stig argues that it's not the same thing.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Stigman.
- Ironic Echo: "Three inches to the left and ..." and "When have you ever seen me miss?"
- Also, "That's why it's a brilliant plan; no one expected it!"
- And when Earl quotes Bobby on his 'saying' "Have you ever heard the saying, never rob a bank thats across from a diner that has the best donuts in three counties?"
- Jerkass Has a Point: Bad Boss Admiral Tuwey isn't wrong when he states that robbing a bank isn't something that he can excuse a naval officer for doing.
- Karmic Death: To frame Bobby, Earl shoots his boss three times in the chest while the man is helpless on the ground. In the climax, Stig shoots Earl three times in the chest while he's helpless on the ground.
- Large Ham: Earl, played by Bill Paxton.
- Last-Name Basis: Stigman, which is also usually shortened to Stig.
- MacGuffin: The money.
- Mêlée à Trois: At the climax, Bobby and Stig lure the Big Bad Ensemble into a shootout.
- Mercy Lead: While Admiral Tuwey turns out to be a Bad Boss, he does at least have Bobby escorted off the Navy base after refusing to clear his name, rather than have him killed or arrested outright.
- Mexican Standoff: Between the Big Bad Ensemble with Bobby and Stig in the middle of it in the climax.
- Ms. Fanservice: Deb.
- Motor Mouth: Stig at times, courtesy of Mark Wahlberg.
- No Hero Insurance: Stig and Trench seem to think they have enough luck that will enable them to get away with bank robbery, assault, arson, vandalism and all manner of other assorted crimes if they accomplish their objectives for their respective agencies. It doesn't work out that way, as neither one of them are able to get their jobs back at the end of the film
- Obfuscating Stupidity: While being held at gunpoint by someone who wants his car keys, Stig shoves them down the front of his pants, all the while cracking wise. However, it's really a trick, as he waits for the keys to slide down his pants leg, and then kicks them up into the air to distract the man while he goes for his own pistol. Hilariously, it doesn't work."You saw that move coming?""That's correct."
- Pistol-Whipping: Right after the Obfuscating Stupidity moment, Stig gets bopped on the nose with the butt of a revolver.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "Make it rain."
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Subverted with the admiral who seems as if he is this but then is revealed to be a Bad Boss. He throws Stig under the bus to cover up Quince's illegal actions.
- Redemption Equals Death: Debbie betrays Bobby to steal $43,000,0000. Prior to her death, she admits to her deception, tells Bobby to run during their last phone call, and calmly states that she's "right where I deserve to be," as Greco prepares to kill her.
- Reusable Lighter Toss: Stig tosses a Zippo lighter in a diner to start a fire for a distraction at the beginning of the film.
- Right Hand Versus Left Hand: The entire premise is that these two undercover agents have no idea that the other is one as well.
- Robbing the Mob Bank: Well, CIA instead of the mob, but it amounts to the same thing.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Stig wins this honor.
- True Companions: Bobby and Stig evolve into this.
- Vigilante Militia: Bobby runs into two men in a Land Rover who ask to see his identification papers, stating they've appointed themselves local border guards. He pulls a gun on them and steals their vehicle.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Bobby and Stig.
- World of Badass: Nearly all the major cast members qualify, but Bobby and Stig can outgun them all.