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"National Security"

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.”

Rating:  Rental


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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