Directed by Dennis Dugan.
Written by Jay Scherick and David Ronn.
Starring Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 1/21/03
The signs were all in place—bad poster with
a bad byline (“They only look like cops.”), funny trailer with all
the funny scenes in it, lots of slow-motion shots of Martin Lawrence
firing a handgun, and a mostly no-name cast surrounding stars
Lawrence and Steve Zahn (“Joy Ride”, “Out of Sight”). But, the
icing on the cake?
Eric Roberts as the bad guy! Yes!!
And so it goes for the latest in Lawrence’s
long string of bad luck in films of the last five years—“National
Security” opened reasonably well this weekend and it STILL lost to a
fucking kangaroo movie. (Bellviewer Mike “Yac” Iacovone has been
itching so badly for a Hard Vice that he is practically about to
send me a check for $9.50 to see that film, and there is still no
way I will sit in a theater to watch that kangaroo!) This time
around, Lawrence plays LAPD Academy reject Earl Montgomery, a
security guard for private outfit National Security who badly wants
to fight crime for his fair city. He has a run-in with a beat cop
named Hank (Zahn), and after a lion’s share of hijinks that leads to
Hank being kicked off of the force, Hank and Earl become Unlikely,
Mismatched Partners as they try to take down a smuggling operation
led by Nash (Roberts) and some dirty cops.
I give credit where credit is due—there are
some funny scenes in “National Security”, and Zahn’s facial
expressions alone tell me that even though he knew this was dogshit,
he was going to earn every penny being paid to him. Things get
blow’d up real good, too, and a couple of gratuitous, loud shootouts
kept me awake for the 10 PM show I took in. I can’t think of the
last time cars were driven through this many windows, walls,
bridges, and other structures in one film, so director Dennis Dugan
(“Happy Gilmore” is his only worthy directorial credit) at least
handles his car chases.
But, almost everything else about the film
blows, including the screenwriters’ reliance on Earl’s reverse
racism, the nondescript evildoers and their plans to use a special
alloy to smuggle items to and from remote locations, and some
continuity / logistical problems with some of the action sequences.
The ending is as bad as the Earl intro is funny...but, naturally,
you saw that in the trailer, so it loses steam to see it again in
the actual film. Lawrence has two other sequels coming out this
year (“Blue Streak 2” and
“Bad Boys 2”), so maybe he has a hit in
him to get him off the slide. Lawrence’s good past projects can
essentially be summed up as “Martin” (the TV show), “Bad Boys” and
the highly-underrated comedy “Nothing to Lose.”
Comments? Drop me a line at
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
"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 bad...man, 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
"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