Review by Paul Stathakis | 2003

Chemistry between Smith and Lawrence still perfect

We’re get­ting old Mike”, says Mar­cus Bur­nett (Mar­tin Lawrence) to his part­ner Mike Low­ery (Will Smith). The remark is indeed cor­rect since the sequel takes place near­ly 10 years after the orig­i­nal “Bad Boys.” And while “Bad Boys II” reunites a now-matured cast, it deliv­ers more sol­id action, more humor, and more, well, Michael Bay-Jer­ry Bruck­heimer-Don Simp­son fluff.

Spec­tac­u­lar car chas­es, loud explo­sions, shootouts, and grotesque moments — all Michael Bay trade­marks. It’s what he’s good at doing, gen­er­at­ing enough need­less but fun action for 146 min­utes. To add more to his pro­file, he enjoys cut­ting through bound­aries (and numer­ous cam­era angles) to take things over­board.

The sto­ry isn’t mag­i­cal or inno­v­a­tive. It is mun­dane. Mar­cus and Mike are on the look­out for ecsta­sy ship­ments arranged by a noto­ri­ous Cuban drug lord, John­ny Tapia (Jor­di Mol­la). But one of the boys has trans­formed. Mar­cus has matured into a dif­fer­ent cop. He wants to enjoy life, spend casu­al time with his fam­i­ly, and avoid hav­ing to use his gun. Mike, on the oth­er hand, hasn’t changed. He is still a play­boy who enjoys the thrill of being in a pur­suit or a gun­fight.

Mike is invit­ed for din­ner at Mar­cus’ house, where he meets up with Sid (Gabrielle Union) again. Sid is Mar­cus’ younger sis­ter, also a DEA agent under­cov­er in the Tapia case. To make mat­ters worse, we quick­ly find out that Mike became inti­mate with Sid while on duty in New York, and Mar­cus isn’t aware of the secret sparks between them. He is over-pro­tec­tive of his sis­ter and doesn’t like Mike’s approach to women. Imag­ine what would hap­pen if he actu­al­ly found out about the affair.

As the case unfolds, Sid slow­ly infil­trates Tapia’s world. She becomes dan­ger­ous­ly entan­gled in the mid­dle of a major deal involv­ing Rus­sians and Haitians. So, Mike and Mar­cus decide to “watch her back” and stick clos­er to the case. And good old Cap­tain Howard (Joe Pan­to­liano) isn’t flat­tered. In fact, he is still uptight and unsat­is­fied with the boys and their “unsub­tle” work. He com­plains and yells at the boys, like he did in the first install­ment. Pan­to­liano is hys­ter­i­cal and amus­ing, but I was hop­ing to see more from him in the sequel.

Get­ting back the sto­ry, the flick gets deep­er when Sid’s cov­er is blown and she is held hostage. This is what dri­ves “Bad Boys II” through a brick wall and into “full throt­tle” mode, where the action gets going and, boy, there’s enough to fill an entire zoo. It flares with the kind of action, humor, and light dra­ma from a Lethal Weapon film or any of the Die Hards.

I was a fan of the first “Bad Boys.” The sequel is dif­fer­ent, but it is also more of the same with a lit­tle more. The grue­some­ness is new and, frankly, shock­ing. There is a scene where the boys enter a mor­tu­ary to dig up pos­si­ble evi­dence (you’ll under­stand when you see the movie) and Mar­cus uncov­ers a dead body lying on an exam­i­na­tion table. The deceased man’s head sud­den­ly splits open to reveal his brain and star­tles the hell out of Mar­cus. It is graph­ic. Think Han­ni­bal and then think ten times more ugly. You still won’t get the full pic­ture until you see it for your­self. Oth­er gross scenes include cadav­ers falling out of a speed­ing truck and being squashed by cars and peo­ple being shot in the fore­head. The hor­rid scenes are clear-cut and direct, which is the main fac­tor I didn’t enjoy.

Bay hasn’t helmed many movies yet, but his work seems to fol­low pat­terns designed by Hol­ly­wood. What I am try­ing to say is that Bad Boys II is not a mas­ter­piece — it is a con­ven­tion­al block­buster. But it’s also fun and serves its pur­pose. This is not a dra­ma nor is it XXX or Roller­ball; if it were, I wouldn’t be sit­ting here, applaud­ing Bay for his expert­ly made diver­sion.

In one of the film’s more seri­ous moments, Mike says to Mar­cus, “We ride togeth­er. We die togeth­er. Bad boys for life.” It’s all about rid­ing and fight­ing until the end and risk­ing your life for a cause. And, so what if it takes both a Fer­rari chase and a Hum­mer chase to prove it? So what if it includes explo­sions and guns to enhance it? It’s part of the mix. Why not indulge in the unthink­able and accept the movie for what it real­ly is: con­ven­tion­al larg­er-than-life fun. That’s what I thought about “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throt­tle” and exact­ly what I feel about “Bad Boys II.” It met my expec­ta­tions. There­fore, the amus­ing ques­tion remains, “Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”

 

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