21 March 2007 | ExpendableMan
Over the top, trigger happy macho nonsense. I loved it!
It must be awesome being Michael Bay. I mean, can you imagine any other director who is given mega-budgets every few weeks and told to blow up more than he did in his previous movies? In the first Bad Boys film an air-plane hanger was blown to bits and was swiftly followed by an asteroid being nuked in Armageddon and the destruction of Pearl Harbour in...uh, Pearl Harbour. Not to be undone, Bad Boys 2 has him indulging in not one, but two chaotic car chases where muscle cars which most of us would spend our lives saving up for are torn to pieces like yesterday's newspapers and rounding everything up by detonating a sizable part of Cuba. If this trend continues, there won't be a building left standing in the whole of North America once Transformers is through. Not bad for a smug little geek with a rubbish haircut.
If you've seen the first Bad Boys film, you'll know what to expect. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return as Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, a pair of loose cannon cops whose only similarities are their penchants for arguing and getting into gun fights. Lowrey (Smith) is all laid back cool, stylin' and profilin' his way through the Miami underworld while charming the pants off every woman that crosses his path. Burnett on the other hand is an insecure, neurotic and over protective family man. Not only that, but he has a bit of an anger management problem as well and has been half a step away from a severe nervous breakdown for the majority of his adult life. So far, so very similar to any cop orientated buddy movie you've ever seen, but Bad Boys 2 overcomes the total lack of originality thanks to the natural charisma of the stars and the sheer spectacle of its action sequences.
The plot of course is throw away guff designed to hurtle Smith and Lawrence into the thick of as many explosions as possible, but when they bounce off each other this well it's difficult to care. Martin Lawrence has never been a great leading man but somehow, when partnered with Will Smith his career makes perfect sense, his manic edginess being the perfect foil to Smith's effortless charm. You could argue that being on screen with the World's Most Charismatic Man would make anyone look good, but then you'd clearly not have seen the terrible I, Robot, where nobody looked good. Not even the robot.
And then you have the aforementioned action sequences. Yes, we all know they're going to be over the top, but lord almighty, it's still an adrenaline pumping thrill to see them happen. The opening John Woo impression with the Ku Klux Klan is just the starter to a main course that consists of a destruction derby car chase, a close quarters battle with some Rastafarian gang members, a fist fight on a train carriage, ANOTHER insane car chase and a dessert set in Cuba, where a mansion gets destroyed. Throughout, bodies fly off overpasses to go crashing into glass phone boxes, men are riddled with machine gun fire and the balls of fire get bigger and more firey the later they appear. Bad Boys 2 might not be subtle, but it sure as hell is fun.
However, there is a drawback: the running time. It might be an energetic exercise in flashy excess, but did it really need to be two and a half hours long? Entertaining though it is, there comes a point when you've seen enough faceless henchmen getting holes drilled in them and just want to see the villain being brought down. Given the extreme running time, isn't also a bit unusual that Joe Pantoliano's role as the best clichéd police chief in movie history is so small? Maybe they were worried he'd pack the movie into his bags and run off with them like he did the first time around...
Those grumbles aside, there's little complaint to be made about Bad Boys 2. Sure, it's so shallow that I could just as easily have written "Will Smith and Martin Lawrence destroy stuff" and summed up the entire enterprise, but it makes for an exhilarating action movie and the natural successor to all those ones produced in the eighties when brain cells were exchanged for body counts and biceps. Try not to take it seriously and you'll have a blast.