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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