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"Bad Boys II"

Directed by Michael Bay.
Written by Ron Shelton ("White Men Can't Jump") and Jerry Stahl.
Starring Martin Lawrence and Will Smith.
Release Year:  2003
Review Date:  7/21/03 


Like many of you, I loved the first “Bad Boys” film mostly because of two things:  the chemistry between leads Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and the hilarious over-the-top filmmaking of Michael Bay, highlighted by what Gordon “The Professional” Stokes and I call “the circle shot”, that slow-motion camera move when Will and Martin rise off of the street, sweaty, looking off in the distance for almost no reason at all after a failed rescue attempt of the useless Tea Leoni. 

But, as much as I loved it, I’ll admit that as a comedy, it is great...but, as an action film, it is average.  Bay fell too in love with slow-motion gunplay in the film, and his famous shaky camera work during car chase scenes did not work there (although it DOES work in “The Rock”).  My hope with the sequel--like all sequels--is that they would maintain the level of what worked the first time around and augment what was weak from the first effort. 

So, I’m very happy to inform fans of the first film that “Bad Boys II” does just that.  The film has four or five hilarious, I mean HILARIOUS sequences with mismatched cops Mike (Smith) and Marcus (Lawrence), and their chemistry is once again intact after eight years off between these films.  And, the action--oh, the action!--is awesome.  The biggest change with the action sequences here is that they are just fucking huge:  it looks like the filmmakers blew up the entire sets in Miami and Puerto Rico (starring as Cuba) to complete this film, and after watching a making-of TV show over the weekend on the film, I think I am right.  Car chases are huge (by the way, every single one of those cars flying around on the highway but one is real, according to the lead stunt coordinator), the gun battles are long, loud and violent, and shit blows up in this movie better than any action film this summer.  In fact, this film feels like a big Schwarzenegger film during the late 80s--there is only a plot to bridge loud, expensive-looking action sequences.  The laundry list of ways to die is long in this film; the body count got so high that I lost count after 100.  The last 40 minutes are plotted like no one ever checked to see if the situation was REMOTELY plausible; in fact, if you know action films at all, I already know the very first film that will pop into your head when you see that end sequence at the house.  There is a gratuitous-yet-poignant scene at a Miami club:  exotic-looking women writhe on other women for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON, and I was laughing my ass off the whole time thinking back to when all cop films had a strip-club scene within the first 30 minutes of the running time. 

(I went with my friend Max to see this and he asked during that scene if that was the “real” Miami.  “Yeah,” I replied, “but one thing:  the women wear less clothing.”  Max’s reply?  “Fuck this, man--I’m going to Miami!”) 

The visuals in “Bad Boys II” are much steadier, the lighting more interesting and the overall look of the film just plain cooler.  You’ll never hear me call Michael Bay artistic, mind you, and he still handles scenes outside of the explosions with the expertise of a film school freshman.  But, even in “Pearl Harbor”, his action scenes are very well done, and in “Bad Boys II” he makes you remember the filmmaker that, prior to “Armageddon”, was on a good path because he understands pacing so well.  Of course, it helps when you have a $100-million budget and access to any and all toys and accessories, so the cars are flashy, the bazookas are loud, and the shanty towns...well...they’re demolished. 

Life in “Bad Boys II” isn’t all good, though.  Ron Shelton’s (“White Men Can’t Jump”, “Tin Cup”) script is sometimes atrocious; the plot is apparently based on a real-life drug-smuggling scheme, but it still felt hackneyed.  Acting by cop boss Joe Pantoliano (from the first film, and of course “The Matrix”) is Al-Pacino-in-“Heat” over-emoting, which makes his character more annoying than funny, and the bad guy this time around (Spanish star Jordi Molla) doesn’t hold a candle to Tcheky Karyo from the first movie.  Strangely, I thought that the bad guy from the other big Miami production this summer, “2 Fast 2 Furious” star Cole Hauser, would have been a better fit for this film because “Bad Boys II” is just a tougher, more adult film and Hauser would have fit the mood perfectly. 

The film runs long mostly in its action sequences (bringing the total time to 150 minutes...hmm...), and the periodically-interesting subplot featuring Marcus’s sister Sydney (Gabrielle Union) and her romance with Mike seemed to drag at times, especially in one scene where we are forced to watch Mike and Marcus deal with their feelings...this is an ACTION film, for cryin’ out loud!  Otherwise, this is solid fare if you like your movies bloody.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09