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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Review

Bad Boys II (2003)
1 Star

Directed by Michael Bay
Cast: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Gabrielle Union, Jordi Molla, Joe Pantoliano, Theresa Randle, Jason Manuel Olazabal, Gary Nickens, Henry Rollins.
2003 – 150 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for extreme violence and gore, language, sex, nudity, and drug content).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, July 19, 2003.

1995's "Bad Boys" was a relatively small-scale action-comedy that became a sleeper hit at the box office, benefiting from the charismatic pairing of Martin Lawrence (2003's "National Security") and Will Smith (2002's "Men in Black II"), who played well off each other. It was no great shakes, to be sure, pretty typical in style and content, but it got the job done. Eight years have passed, and times have most certainly changed. In today's world of action sequels, what was once big has to be bigger, louder, and more spectacular. "Bad Boys II," once again directed by Michael Bay (2001's "Pearl Harbor"), fits all of these requirements and then some. For example, it is also more ridiculous, more sloppy, more violent, more tasteless, and—most unnecessary of all—42 minutes longer.

Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) are long-time friends and partners working for Miami's Narcotics Police Division. They latest case involves bringing down Johnny Tapia (Jordi Molla), a big-time Cuban drug smuggler specializing in Ecstasy. Also entering the picture is Marcus' younger sister, Syd (Gabrielle Union), a DEA Agent working undercover on the same case, who has secretly begun a relationship with Mike behind Marcus' back. Overblown car chases, explosions, and shoot-outs ensue, leaving everyone for dead (including countless innocent bystanders) except the questionable good guys.

"Bad Boys II" starts off innocently mediocre enough, with a first-act car chase that offers nothing new from the countless other car chases this summer, but nonetheless is an adrenaline-fueled diversion. But then, as the minutes—no, make that hours—tick by, the movie digs itself a grave deep enough to bury every last one of the victims of the Titanic. Mean-spirited and brain-dead in the extreme, the film patronizingly tries to pass itself off as an action-packed popcorn entertainment when, in fact, every last bone in its body is hateful, offensive, and sickening.

Take, for example, the sequence in which Marcus and Mike chase a van full of cadavers, as the lifeless bodies drop to the road one by one and are gruesomely run over and decapitated. Or, how about the scene in which the duo suspect the drugs are being hid inside the corpses, and proceed to tear them open and root around inside, tearing out organs right and left and cracking jokes all the while? Funny enough for you? Another scene, which has nothing to do with progressing the story, depicts Marcus and Mike ganging up on Marcus' teenage daughter's date, ruthlessly berating the innocent child and sticking a gun on him. If Mike and Marcus were meant to be the villains of the piece, then they would be the most evil characters to come along since Hannibal Lecter sliced open Ray Liotta's skull and fed his own brain to him (by the way, there is a scene in which Mike and Marcus are involved in something alarmingly similar). Because they are supposed to be the heroes, and apparently have no value for human life outside of their family's, their actions only make them more despicable.

As in the original, Martin Lawrence and Will Smith make wisecracks and seem to be having fun with each other, which is amazing if only due to all the blood and body parts that are continuously flying their way. As Syd, the effervescently talented Gabrielle Union (2003's "Deliver Us from Eva") struggles through the shallow material, popping up long enough to shoot a gun and make googly eyes at Smith's smooth-talking Mike. Theresa Randle and Joe Pantoliano (2003's "Daredevil") reprise their roles as Marcus' wife and he and Mike's boss, but their scenes are so threadbare and sporadic as to practically seem nonexistent.

In the eyes of director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, why just shoot a person in the head when you can then let them fall on a landmine, graphically blowing them up into itsy-bitsy pieces? This sort of thinking is, in general, all well and good when you have hundreds of millions of dollars at your disposal, but it is shameful when this sort of action and violence ceases being fun and turns downright malicious. "Bad Boys II," more than any other motion picture in recent memory, holds zero value for human life and nary a thought in its puny brain. As skillfully made as it is from a technical outlook, it is just as disastrous on every other conceivable level.

Special Note: Since I already brought up the idiocy and inconsistencies of the MPAA system once this week in my "Johnny English" review, I might as well do it again. "Bad Boys II" is as violent, gruesome, and graphically repugnant as any R-rated film I can remember seeing, while 2001's "L.I.E.," a coming-of-age film with mild (but not graphic) sexual content, was rated NC-17. This is further proof that violence and careless death in film is A-okay, but any sort of genuine human connection on a sexual level is off-limits. Where, I ask you, is the logic in this?
© 2003 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman