By David Mumpower
December 9, 2003
If the NRA were ever going to produce a big budget Hollywood movie, it
would look something like Bad Boys II. Shamelessly loud, inconceivably
violent and recklessly xenophobic, the movie is not without its moments
but it's impossible to whole-heartedly endorse in good conscience.
Marking the return of the studio system's holy triumvirate of Will
Smith, Martin Lawrence and Michael Bay, Bad Boys II follows in the well-
worn footsteps of its predecessor by offering a dizzying mix of comedy
and ultra-violence. What the original had in spades was chemistry as
buddy cop detectives Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Smith)
proved to be a genuinely dynamic duo. The two comics demonstrated an
impeccable ability to each switch from straight man to punch live
Bad Boys II finds them just as kinetic together but Lawrence has
defaulted to being most frequently the victim of bigger star Smith's
good intentions. The body of the outlandish comic sets in the film come
at the expense of Lawrence's character, and he demonstrates himself to
be more than up to the task. Almost all of the positives I took from my
screening centered around him. While he is used to unneeded extremes at
certain points, Lawrence is definitely the best part of the movie.
Smith, for his part, continues to do what he has done for all too long
now. He coasts. In his defense, the sketchy character development given
to him by the team of scribes responsible for the screenplay offers
little opportunity for him to be anything else. It's enough to make me
wonder if there isn't scribbling in the margins that says, "Have Will
be the Fresh Prince here." He is a talented thespian and he deserves
better, even from a paycheck part.
The story in Bad Boys II is something of an oddity. There are hints of
very clever ideas which tantalize but a lack of cohesion causes a
feeling of incompletion. For such an overly long film (roughly two hours
and 20 minutes), that's sloppy.
The underdeveloped portion of the story involves the unexpected visit of Marcus's
sister, Syd (Gabrielle Union, the goddess of love). She claims to be
there on vacation and lets Mike know he is the preferred resort spot
this season. Mike doesn't want to turn down this serendipitous offer
from his secret lover but to make that work, he will have to keep Marcus
from finding out sweet sister Syd is ronking his best friend Mike. What
odds do you think Vegas would give on that happening for the whole film?
And sunny point number two is that Syd's alleged vacation involves some
of the most violent crime lords Cuba has ever birthed.
The uber-national aspect of the above is a large reason for the discomfort caused by a Bad Boys II viewing. While it's not at all unexpected to find a Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay production to be fiercely patriotic, the casual disregard given to anyone Cuban is sick and pathetic.
The overtones are there throughout the movie, and it proceeds from
implicitly verbalized to explicitly demonstrated during an unwarranted
final showdown. There is a moment two hours into the proceedings where
it appears the movie is done and we can go home. Right at this second,
about a dozen guys decide to invade Cuba. Had that not happened, I would
be unabashedly stating my enjoyment of Bad Boys II despite a couple of
unwelcome scenes involving corpses. Since they do head south, the movie
is hard to forgive.
The problem is that while in a foreign country, Mike and Marcus go on a
spree of violence that Joseph Stalin would admire for its malevolence.
At one point, they jump in a Humvee and start mowing down inhabited
shanties just because they're there. Why is this allegedly okay? A quick
line is added that this is where the drugs are made; ergo, all of the
people hanging out in these shacks deserve to receive Death by RV. I
consider it to be the low point of cinema in 2003. And I have seen
For those who can get past the senseless slaughter of an indigenous
culture (shout out to all the 14-29 male demographic reading BOP today),
Bad Boys II is not a bad film. There are multiple belly laughs and a few
fascinating stunt sequences. Had there simply been a touch more
moderation, I would be calling this one a winner. As is, I have to
describe it as a near miss. Michael Bay really does bring it on
Read what She Said.