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Bad boys II

There is no easy way to say this, so I'll just get it over with. Bad Boys II is the worst movie of the year. It is a stinking, vile piece of crap whose sole purposes are to entertain the already jaded and offend everyone else. Though it doesn't sink to the narrative incoherence of Anger Management or descend to the sheer stupidity of Dreamcatcher, it trumps both of those movies with its total contempt for its audience.

How much does Bad Boys II hate its audience? So much so that it makes no pretense of having a plot that makes sense. How else to explain that the villain, his posse, and Will Smith's girlfriend are able to escape from a luxury villa while whole squadrons of DEA agents and Miami police are surrounding them? The movie doesn't try to explain how it happens; it just assumes that its audience will be too stupid even to ask the question. Or what about the sequence in which Will Smith and Martin Lawrence decide to invade Cuba with help from rogue agents of the CIA, DEA, Delta Force, Miami PD, State Dept., Cuban counter-revolutionaries, and the Taliban for all I know? Will and Martin don't even need to advertise in Guns and Ammo. They just look forlorn, and suddenly twenty men show up. And why would these forces of good be willing to literally invade a hostile country, killing dozens of Cuban soldiers in the process? Merely to save Will Smith's girlfriend. I won't even get into the issues surrounding how a pair of cops can ruin dozens of police cars, kill pedestrian after pedestrian, cause mass mayhem on Miami streets not once or twice but three times, and still stay on the force.

Of course, few action blockbusters have airtight plots, so the fact that Bad Boys II has an especially stupid one can't be totally damning. No, what really sets this movie apart is sheer offensiveness. The movie takes delight in the various ways it can mutilate the human body. Director Michael Bay has taken his signature moment from Pearl Harbor--the one where the audience follows a bomb from the airplane to the aircraft carrier below--and transferred it seamlessly into a more contemporary tale. Here, we follow a bullet in slow-motion from the barrel of a gun to where it explodes inside a person's neck. And if you liked it the first time, you get another chance later on, this time as it passes through someone's brain. Why don't we just go down to the video store and rent Faces of Death?!

Speaking of death, the movie has great fun with dead people. Since the drug-lord villain uses a funeral parlor as a front, the story is able to use corpses galore. So there are scenes where cars run over corpses (crunch), where our heroes stick their hands in corpses (slush), where various people cut up corpses (crack), and where Martin Lawrence lays down next to a particularly buxom corpse (ooh la la). I guess this is all supposed to be hilarious, but I found it despicable.

The movie's marketing has made a big deal out of its humor, hoping that, like certain politicians, if it says the same thing over and over the audience might come to believe it. Well, Bad Boys II is not funny. While it does mine some laughs out of the conceit that other people think Smith and Lawrence are gay, those sequences go on far too long. The problem with only having one joke is that five minutes of that one gag isn't funny anymore; it's just sad. And even worse, the slow parts of Bad Boys II are so painful I actually started wishing for more mayhem. If nothing else, Michael Bay knows how to shoot an explosion. But after a while, even that grows tiresome.

I would be willing to put up with all of this gruesome violence, the non-stop swearing, and the total lack of respect for the dead if the movie was actually entertaining. But it's not. The story is merely a carbon copy of every other buddy-cop-action-flick. The love interest is completely unbelievable. And the villain feels like a parody of the old "Miami Vice" how. In fact, Bad Boys II is a parody of itself trapped inside a blockbuster shell. If the movie only recognized how terrible it was, it might have been able to salvage something interesting.

I have never sat in a movie where I had such an urge to start swearing back at the screen in the middle of the film. And at the movie's conclusion, my friend Garth actually started yelling, "Am I [bleeping] insane? Am I [bleeping] insane? Did I actually see what I thought I just saw?" It was the only suitable response. 

J. Robert Parks 7/21/2003

Eight years after the success of the first film, the creative talents responsible have reunited and produced a summer action film that delivers. Bad Boys 2 not only improves on the action content but sets new standards for buddy cop movies to aspire.

The film continues the adventures of Miami narcotics cops Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Bennett (Martin Lawrence) as they battle the bad guys and each other to stop a dangerous drug trafficker named Tapia (Jordia Molla) from flooding the streets with his deadly version of Ecstasy and from smuggling millions of dollars out of the country.

While the plot may seem like many from other films in the genre, Bad Boys 2 benefits from the great chemistry between Smith and Lawrence and the steady flow of action from director Michael Bay, who keeps the action flowing but never lets it upstage the characters in the film. The action is non-stop and gripping, and there are numerous chases that will not only delight but also raise the bar for future films to follow. One such chase has Mike and Marcus in a high-speed pursuit of the bad guys in a stolen car hauler. The scene is awash in action, energy, and humor as the two detectives traded barbs with each other and bullets with the bad guys while dodging a vast array of vehicles that had been dropped from the hauler in an effort to stop the pursuit. The stunt work is amazing and it is a scene of masterful creation that keeps the adrenaline flowing. The effects are used to enhance the scene without taking center stage away from the human element. This is but one of three main chase scenes in the film and each one was spectacular as it offered something new to what has often become a tired cliché in action films.

The film also has some great moments of humor. A frustrated Marcus baring his soul in a video store to Mike--unaware that their conversation is not private-- is hysterical. A scene where the two harass a young man who has come to take Marcus's daughter on a first date is also very funny.

While the action is hot and constant, it should be noted that it is very violent, and there are some scenes that up the ante on graphic violence. It is never gratuitous but it is often appropriate for the situation in which it is presented.

The supporting players in the film are quite good, especially the work of Joe Pantoliano as the long-suffering boss of the detectives and Theresa Randle as Marcus's younger sister, D.E.A. agent Theresa Burnett. However, it is Lawrence and Smith who make this film fly as they feed off each other without trying to upstage one another. I have always thought that Lawrence works best when paired with a talent who will push him and allow his gifts to show. His portrayal of the turbulent yet confused Marcus is dead-on as he blends action and humor in a manner that seems natural for the character. Smith exudes an easy-going charm that makes his character Mike a likeable person despite his flaws. Mike and Marcus are good people who often have to do bad things in order to make the world a better place and are not Teflon action heroes; they are affected by the violence around them. Mike has learned to accept it; Marcus has to debate if a less violent way is more appropriate and better for his family in the long run. Bay keeps the film clicking, and despite its nearly two and a half hour length, it never becomes boring. The action sequences are original and captivating. Bad Boys 2 is easily one of the best action and buddy cop filmsin years. And yes, it's better than the original film.

Gareth Von Kallenbach   July 27, 2003


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