|Rating:RATED R for Lots of Violence, Blood, Sexuality, Language, and Cadavers
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano, Gabrielle Union, Dan Marino
Directed By: Michael Bay
What was I to think upon entering the theater for Bad Boys II? I’m one of the original film’s biggest fans, and for my money I’d never seen a better action partner pairing than Smith and Lawrence in that film. Bad Boys was the springboard for Jerry Bruckheimer’s slew of 90’s action epics, most notably launching him and Director Michael Bay into The Rock, which is for my money the best Action film ever made. But now, after allowing 8 years to pass and making two blockbusters – the first of which was the lackluster Armageddon, the second being the horrible Pearl Harbor – Bay is back at the helm of his breakout material. But could he and Bruckheimer make it work again? I had doubts.
With Smith and Lawrence in the fold, it looks like Bay has put his romance epic penchance to bed (at least for now) and decided to give us what he does best. Bad Boys II is a sweeping action spectacle, a film that moves so fast that it gives us whiplash. The film runs for nearly two and a half hours, but it’s two and a half hours of non-stop thrills and laughs. It looks good, sounds good, and feels good; despite its over-violent nature.
The film opens with Smith’s Mike Lowery and Lawrence’s Marcus Burnett back together, working undercover on the Miami PD’s “Tactical Narcotics Team”. In the opening sequence (and in the trailer) it’s explained that, since the events of September 11th, drugrunners into Miami are now going underwater instead of over it. I only note this because, at least to my knowledge, this is the first film I’ve seen make note of the 9/11 tragedy as a plot device. I’m not sure how this matters, I just thought I’d mention it.
Anyways, the Bad Boys are soon on the trail of a psychotic Cuban druglord. The villain, played by Jordi Molla, has a strange resemblance to the image of Jesus Christ, a resemblance that the film refers to long after I’d noticed it. Again, I don’t know what this means, I just thought I’d mention it. Apparently the filmmakers think a villain is scary if he looks like Christ. I definitely would give the edge to Tcheky Karyo in Bad Boys as a villain, even if he didn’t look like Christ.
I should talk about the film. Bay’s action sequences are perfectly paced and well done, with an early chase sequence being as good, if not better, than the great one we saw earlier this month in Terminator 3. Either way, it’s one of the two best action scenes we’ve seen in this “Summer of Explosions”. The film is packed full of shoot-outs and chases, which are separated by arguments and jokes between the leads. It’s the same formula as the first, with less tension and plot.
The key is the performers, and Smith and Lawrence don’t disappoint. They share the same chemistry they had in the original, and it makes this film just as watchable. The gags are more forced, and sometimes not as funny while sometimes being sidesplittingly hilarious. They get some help in a few scenes from the marvelous Joe Pantoliano as their screaming Captain who steals each scene he’s in. Peter Stormare is also well cast in his usual “creepy Russian dude” role, and adds several laughs in his final scene. The gorgeous Gabrielle Union joins the fray as Marcus’ DEA agent sister/Mike’s love interest, and is pleasant enough to fit the film.
I’ve thought through all the bad things I could say about this film – and there’re enough of them to fill a 20-page essay – but it’s not worth it. Bad Boys II comes off the screen as a ton of hilarious and heart pounding fun. It’s a violent, foul-mouthed explosionfest that never fails to entertain – a guilty pleasure that fills 150 minutes quicker than any other film of it’s length in the last decade. If you’re a fan of Bad Boys, you’ll be more than pleased.