Bad Boys II

2 stars


2nd January 2005

If there are two black actors who need a hit at the moment, they're Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Will Smith has unfortunately never lived up to the promise he showed in Michael Mann's Ali, and found himself content with dross like Men In Black 2. Martin Lawrence needs an altogether different kind of hit ie. a punch in the damn face for being surely the most irritating actor on the planet. Now, they're teaming up with original Bad Boys director and official Son Of Satan Michael Bay for a sequel to a movie that was never that good in the first place. Not looking good, is it?

But it does look good. Alas, looking good is about the best that Bad Boys 2 can muster. Love him or loathe him, you can't deny Bay can do some kickass stuff with a camera and here he puts his considerable skills to good use - before the two and a half hours are up (yes, it really is that long) you'll have seen bullets fly through glass in slo-mo, into and out of Martin Lawrence's ass then into the neck of a bad guy, as well as houses exploding, a motorway pile up to rival that of The Matrix Reloaded plus numerous other set-pieces that the phrase 'style over substance' was coined for. Credit where credit's due, Bad Boys 2 looks the business and in the sun-drenched backdrop of Miami, there's plenty of luscious scenery and buzzing cityscapes for Bay to play with. The car chase, which sees our heroes dodging cars falling off the back of a car transporter at high speed, is as exhilarating as it is brilliant and is the high point in an otherwise lacklustre picture. There's one ridiculous scene in which the Boys are chasing Evil Drug Guy down a mountain, destroying a quaint little village in their massive Humvee in the process, presumably killing all 500 or so of the innocent residents. Muuuuhhh.

Unfortunately, once you get bored of looking at the pretty 'splosions and the people firing guns at each other, you realise the film has been running for an hour and you don't really give a shit what's going on, as long as more stuff gets blown up. There's some lazy-ass half-baked plot about drug shipments under all the gloss, plus the introduction of Lawrence's character's sister, an undercover cop who gets embroiled in the Bad Boys' business. Every character on show here is a cliche - the black, jive talkin' cops, the white swarthy drug lord, the idiotic Latino henchmen, the Jamaican drug bunnies - it's like Michael Bay picked up Hollywood's big book of racial stereotypes and dived right in. To be frank, it's insulting and it's been seen a million times before, not least in the first Bad Boys movie.

The original movie was a hit because of the chemistry between the two leads, Smith and Lawrence as Mike Lowry and Marcus Burnett. There was a comedic tension between them and a nice line in ad libbing that kept the movie fresh and on edge, which is sadly absent from the sequel - most of the dialogue here is shouted or weighed down with swearing. Apparently, if you're black and a cop, it's now de rigeur to call everything 'shit', to say things got 'fucked up' and if someone invades your personal space, they've 'fucked your shit up'. Bad language can be big and clever, but not here - it's cheap and tries to paper over cracks in a duff script. But if you're easily offended, the swearing will be the last thing on your mind.

Bad Boys 2 is disgustingly violent, almost to the point of being offensive. As well as Bay's usual quota of guns and explosions, here we have dismemberment, point blank shootings and even 'comedy' gore via the use of dead bodies - simply not funny and in the worst possible taste. At one point, Burnett has to hide on a gurney under a cover with a dead woman... and she's got large breasts! And she's dead! This is pretty much the general level of humour here. There are some funny moments, most notably when the duo grill Burnett's daughter's suitor at his front door, but Bad Boys 2 is generally a humour free zone.

But there are no grounds to complain - Bay has a reputation for this 'shit', and we should really know better than going to see a Martin Lawrence movie. If you're looking for cheap thrills, Bad Boys 2 can give you a hit for sure, but if you're weak of heart or smart of brain, you're best off giving it a wide berth. It'll fuck your shit up for real, dog.

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