By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Eight years after Bad Boys, Martin Lawrence was broke again. I’m not terribly sure why else it would take that long to get Bad Boys II off the ground. Thankfully for fans of the series, that must mean we’re not too far from Bad Boys III.
We rejoin Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) in a slightly different place. Mike’s still the rambling bachelor, but he’s a bit less anal and a bit more charming than the last time we saw him, as befitting Will’s A-list status. Marcus is rich now for some reason, but otherwise is about the same. When Marcus’s never before mentioned sister/DEA agent Syd (Gabrielle Union) draws them into battle with an untouchable Cuban drug smuggler, it’s once again time to save the day.
And blow some shit up
That plot description was tongue-in-cheek, but let’s be honest, plot is not why you go to see these things. Instead you come to see good-looking stars, ever-escalating action setpieces, and cheap, fast laughs paced quickly enough that you don’t have time to stop and think with all of the spectacle flashing before your eyes. In recent years, critics have begun to come around to the craftsmanship needed to pull a flick like this off, in particular giving the Fast & Furious franchise almost Oscar-level ratings of approval (at least by Rotten Tomatoes standards, that is).
Well, Bad Boys II did it first, did it bigger, and did it better. Divorce Michael Bay from this PG, four-quadrant bullshit and he’s one hell of an action director. From an exhilarating Miami car chase ending in an orgy of destruction that puts Fast 5’s much-praised Rio finale to shame to the final, incredibly implausible yet oh-so-awesome Cuban firefight, Bad Boys II does action as good as any flick out there.
Btw, this is what happens when poorly supported paramilitary groups think attacking Cuba is a good idea
Bay throws every idea he has at the screen, and makes them all stick. From the first Bad Boys to this one, you can definitely see his growth from a director emulating the greats of the action genre to one with his own signature style. He’s unfortunately doubled-down on that approach to excruciating results in years since, but that doesn’t diminish what he accomplished here. Oh, and one last raised glass to Peter Stormare, who is the king of cheesy, crazily-accented B-movie villainy. I wish his Russian gangster in this could get his own movie.
There’s a lot of ways to pick this one apart if you feel like it, but the only thing I didn’t like was how it was probably this movie that convinced Bay that he could direct comedy as well as action… and what led to shit like this being let loose on the world:
Everything about Bad Boys II is more ridiculous: the explosions are bigger, Will is more charming, Lawrence shriller, the guns are louder, the butts are curvier, John Sayles’s glasses are thicker… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Take a Drink: product placement Bingo!
Take a Drink: every time someone abuses a substance
Take a Drink: for every shot fired… ha, no, that’s lethal. For every gunfight, then.
Take a Drink: whenever Lawrence freaks out about something nasty
Take a Drink: for every bit of psychobabble (Oosa!)
Do a Shot: John Sayles!