BAD BOYS II
** (out of 5)
July 18, 2003
Will Smith as MIKE LOWERY
Martin Lawrence as MARCUS BURNETT
Gabrielle Union as SYDNEY BURNETT
Jordi Molla as HECTOR JUAN CARLOS “JOHNNY” TAPIA
Peter Stormare as ALEXEI
Theresa Randle as THERESA BURNETT
Joe Pantoliano as CAPTAIN HOWARD
Directed by: Michael Bay
BY KEVIN CARR
I was somewhat eager to see this film. After all, the first “Bad Boys” was probably Michael Bay’s second best film after “Armageddon.” (Now, don’t take that as a glowing review. Michael Bay was also responsible for crap like “The Rock” and “Pearl Harbor.” It’s kind of like saying that herpes is my favorite virus after Ebola and AIDS.) Well, at least “Bad Boys II” was better than “Pearl Harbor.”
Every movie that falls below expectations usually has one major reason that overshadows the other. The reason in this one is that it was waaaaaaaay tooooooo looooooong. One hundred and fifty minutes! That’s two and a half hours of your life you just won’t get back, my friends. All this (and its other smaller problems) boil down to a poor script. It’s sad when a script written exclusively for two actors and an almost unlimited budget isn’t as tight, compelling, interesting or fun as the script for the first film, which was originally written for Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz and shot on a measly (well, measly for an action film) budget of $20 million.
The first “Bad Boys” had only $20,000 allocated for script revisions (which, to those who don’t know the industry, is a miniscule amount). Michael Bay sat down with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and revised the overly white boy dialogue to make it sound more urban. There is an excuse for clunky dialogue in that film. “Bad Boys II,” on the other hand, had a sizeable writing budget, I would imagine. And somehow the dialogue and plot points were tough to get through.
Most of the story is just an excuse to string action sequences together with unfunny buddy angst. The script really insults the intelligence of its audience the way the old “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes” show did. We need Will Smith yelling, “That guy hit me in the chin!” as much as we needed Dick Clark and Ed McMahon reminding us, “This practical joke is on Wayne Newton. He doesn’t know it’s happening!”
It’s been almost ten years since the first “Bad Boys” and Mike (Will Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence) are still partners, fighting vice in Miami. Trying to track a massive shipload of ecstasy, Mike and Marcus zero in on Cuban drug kingpin Johnny TAPIA (Jordi Molla). Marcus’s sister Sydney (Gabrielle Union) is also in town, and apparently she has a history with Mike (that Marcus doesn’t know about). Soon, it is revealed that she is a ED agent trying to bust TAPIA as well. She’s working deep undercover, and her brother and new boyfriend are dangerously close to blowing her cover. Joe Pantoliano also reprises his role as the high-strung police captain, and he comes through is true Joey Pants style.
There’s a schizophrenic feel to the film as it flip flops from serious police drama to wacky buddy-cop situations. Even these wacky situations (which were the saving grace in the first film) are few and far between. The only scene memorable and refreshing is Marcus’s interrogation of the 15-year old kid about to take his daughter out on a date. However, most of these scenes (like a predictable moment where Marcus accidentally swallows two tabs of E and acts like a Baffin while visiting Captain Howard).
I once heard Kevin Smith joke about his own filmmaking vision by stating that there was more camera movement in the first two minutes of “Armageddon” than his entire first three films. Well, if you think that Armageddon had plenty of movement in it, get ready for “Bad Boys II” because that film is so over stylized and frenetic that you’d think the camera fell off the operator’s shoulder on every take.
I will give some kudos to the filmmakers, though. When they blow up a car, they really blow up a car. Most of the special effect action shots are practical, which is refreshing to see in a film with all of the green screen and CGI work going on these day. The only time I noticed possible computer work was in shots that were just simply too dangerous to achieve practically (such as a Cuban guard blown from a guard tower).
If you’ve seen any advertisements for this film – especially billboard advertisements – there’s no mistaking who the movie star is. And while both leads had successful situation comedies in the past, the star ain’t the one with film credits like “Black Knight” and “National Security.”
Now, this is a 180 degree turn from when the first “Bad Boys” came out. Back then, Martin Lawrence was a huge television star with some movie experience to boot. Will Smith was the unknown quantity and the one being tested. Now the tables have turned. Smith is an Academy Award nominee with a total movie gross well into the billions of dollars.
Did that cause any tension on the set? I couldn’t tell you. But something lurking in the film has affected the on-screen chemistry in a bad way.