Bad Boys 2 movie review

A scene from 'Bad Boys II'
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**1/2 stars
147 minutes | Rated: R
WIDE: Friday, July 18, 2003
Directed by Michael Bay

Starring Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Gabrielle Union, Jordi Molla, Joe Pantoliano, Theresa Randle, Peter Stormare, Oleg Taktarov, Henry Rollins, Dan Marino (cameo)


These explosions are big enough that you won't need a big-screen TV to get all there is to get from this flick. Better yet, the unnecessarily gross cadaver gags will be that much smaller.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 12.09.2003

  • Michael Bay
  • Will Smith
  • Martin Lawrence
  • Gabrielle Union
  • Jordi Molla
  • Joe Pantoliano
  • Theresa Randle
  • Peter Stormare
  • Oleg Taktarov
  • Henry Rollins

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    Guilty pleasure joys of slick shoot-'em-up sequel 'Bad Boys II' get repetitive after two hours

    By Rob Blackwelder

    Moderation has never been a high priority for the explosion-infatuated team of producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay, but with the two-and-a-half hour wise-cracking, car-crashing, ammo-clip-emptying action sequel "Bad Boys II," they demonstrate what could almost be described as a talent for not knowing enough to quit while they're ahead.

    Around the two hour mark, as nattering Miami cops Mike Lowry (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are gearing up for their umpteenth shootout, the flick simply runs out of steam. It's not that fireballs and gunfights drop off, it's that the accumulative effect becomes a mind-numbing din of million-dollar-a-minute over-production.

    A sequel to 1995's barrage-of-bullets buddy-cop guilty pleasure that made household names of Smith and Lawrence -- and unleashed on the world a deluge of Bay's uber-slick, brain-dead blockbusters ("The Rock," "Armageddon," "Pearl Harbor") -- the flick is a 100-mph joy ride until it hits the skids.

    Going up against a Cuban drug kingpin ("Blow's" Jordi Molla, doing another great greaseball) who is flooding South Florida with Ecstasy smuggled in coffins and cadavers (eww!), in the first 30-odd minutes alone the boys manage to have a showboating slow-mo shootout with the Ku Klux Klan and another with Rastafarian money launderers while speeding through a parking structure -- all of which leads up to an heart-stopping, massively destructive high-speed pursuit.

    This has been a great summer for anti-upping, unprecedentedly spectacular car chases (see "The Italian Job," "The Matrix Reloaded"), but this one trumps them all. As Lowry and Burnett barrel down Miami's narrow MacArthur Causeway in a silver Ferrari, the bad guys, driving a stolen car carrier, start dumping the truck's cargo all over the freeway in tumbling, whirling, debris-spewing wrecks that our heroes slalom through at incredible velocities as the speeding camera catches all the action from just inches off the pavement.

    Some of this has to have been created with CGI effects, but I sure couldn't see the seams. Yet for all the effort that went into this heart-stopping scene, Bay doesn't even bother trying to maintain continuity. A shot-out headlight on Lowry's car -- which becomes a bone of contention in the simultaneous spat between the smack-talking partners -- is damaged then intact, damaged then intact at least a dozen times over the course of the chase.

    The kinetic energy in the picture's crashes, chases and shootouts is nothing short of exhausting, but that doesn't make them coherent. While cinematographer Amir Mokri's camerawork is gorgeously crisp and stylish (lots of those round-and-round, low-angle slow-mo shots that were the signature look of the first "Bad Boys"), Bay's visual-assault editing style becomes a real challenge to comprehension after a while -- and the longer "Bad Boys II" plays on, the more problematic it becomes.

    In a movie like this, one expects bad writing, but the expository dialogue here is downright imbecilic at times. One expects whorish product placements, but not Will Smith actually giving an on-screen verbal endorsement of the Cadillac CTS after driving one in a chase. Especially in an R-rated action flick, one expects some blood and guts, but the cadaver thing is milked way beyond the boundries of poor taste to the point of being unpleasantly gross. (Yet Bay ignores completely any human cost to the endless, often incohesive destruction.)

    And while the two stars' bickering, snap-insult chemistry is razor sharp (in the funniest scene in the movie, they join forces to intimidate a 15-year-old boy come to pick up Burnett's daughter for a date), it falls victim to one of the buddy-cop genre's biggest discord clichés -- a romance between Lowry and Burnett's sexy DEA-agent sister (Gabrielle Union). She is also on the trail of the Cuban smuggler, which leads to her kidnapping and showdown at a huge mansion packed with explosives. Yeah, you've seen the trailers. You know what's coming.

    But by the time this scene rolls around, "Bad Boys II" could have easily had its climax seven or eight times already. Bay could have cut out any dozen scenes in the last two reels and it would have made almost no difference in the storytelling (except to make it less gimmicky) and would have trimmed the picture to a brisk enough length that the last three paragraphs of problems wouldn't have been worth noticing, let alone cataloging.

    Had Bay trimmed a half-hour of plotless fat and a few corpses from this flick, the review you just read would have been all about how to revel in a snazzy, over-the-top shoot-'em-up. But by not knowing when to say "cut," the director has proven, yet again, that even in a genre where style is the substance, he's more garish old Liberace than cool young Elvis.


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