Michael Bay’s “Bad Boys II” is a surprisingly graphic action film that lives up to the reputation of its predecessor, for those who still remember it. The body count is high, though the figure falls slightly short of the number of times Nelly feat. P. Diddy’s “Shake Ya Tail Feather” is pumped through the speakers, as if the never-ending explosions aren’t enough to induce chronic headaches.
Martin Lawrence and Will Smith return as Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey, two lively Miami narcotics officers with an addiction to action and a disregard for humanity. Not even Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano), whose impatience for blood baths can straighten them out.
In one scene, Mike and Marcus are flying through the streets of Cuba in their getaway Hummer. Unfamiliar with the territory, the Hummer burns past the highway streets and into a Shantytown built on a tall hill. The yellow tank plows through the village leaving a wake of destruction behind it. As I counted the number of homes they must have destroyed.. 12,13..24,25,26..37,38, I was thinking of how many innocent people were killed while at the same time crediting the movie for never letting up on the action.
But as we all know, when a movie focuses on one major point, it usually neglects one or more others. In this case, we see no character development beyond the cliché conflict that exists between Mike and Marcus. Mike has been secretly going out with Marcus’s sister, and Marcus is figuring out the best time to let Mike know he plans on transferring to work with a new partner. We learn that Marcus wants to settle down and that working with Mike won’t allow him to do that.
Marcus’s sister, Sydney (Gabrille Union), is also a cop but a DEA agent, an organization that is running their own investigation against the same bad guys as the Miami PD. Cuban drug lord Johnny Tapia (Jordi Molla) is taking over the designer Ecstasy trade in Miami, and it’s a race between which agency can stop them first. Marcus doesn’t know Sydney is knee-deep in the investigation, but rather thinks she works a comfortable desk position. Little does Marcus know she is really working Tapia on the job and working Mike off it.
Can you guess where the films goes from here? Because it’s about drugs, we will of course be dragged into a nightclub and be forced to watch sexy women dancing to techno music while swallowing those little darling blue pills. Am I complaining that cinematographer Amir Mokri’s camera slows down while panning up, down and under girls who are taking Ecstasy while dancing to techno music? No. Am I complaining that every drug lord in the movies owns a nightclub and is always safe in that nightclub because the movie feds haven’t caught on yet? Just a little.
Technically, the nightclub owner is Tapia’s Russian partner (Peter Stormare). Tapia is in the mortuary business, and one of his properties is the location of where the drug bust is supposed to take place (this is before we jump over to Cuba). We learn the Ecstasy is stored in the body cavities of corpses, which answers the question: Why are there dead corpses falling out of the van and onto the highway during one of the many chase scenes?
And as the bodies hit the concrete, the cars squish and squash all over the cadavers. We see limbs get torn and heads detach, all because someone must have forgotten to secure that pesky backdoor latch. At the mortuary, Mike finds fun in putting his hand into the chest cavities of the corpses looking for drugs and/or money the same way a child digs around for Easter Eggs. Marcus can’t handle the sight and even vomits at one point. I couldn’t help but wonder how Marcus could have a small stomach for corpses when his job as a narcotics officer entails that kind of stuff daily. We even witness between two movies many of those corpses becoming so at his own hands. This one of many inconsistencies we see in the characters, mostly Lawrence’s.
I absolutely hated Lawrence’s last film, “National Security,” a movie about a street moron who becomes a police officer after failing the test to become a police officer when he wrecks a few patrol cars. In that film, every line of dialogue had something to do with race, white vs. black. “Bad Boys II” has traces of that same theme.
For some reason, Mike and Marcus infiltrate a Ku Klux Klan rally, eventually lifting their hoods revealing their blackness, then finally shooting them all dead with their automatic weapons. Why the KKK exactly? If I remember the plot details correctly, the Klan was involved in the drug smuggling. I wonder why nobody thought it would have been safer to use white agents instead, that way making the disguise easier, but then again where is the fun in that? Here we get to see the faces of the Klansmen when Marcus removes his hood and exclaims, “uh-oh it’s the nigras!”
Is there good in “Bad Boys II?” Admittedly, I found all the blood and gore to be a temporary distraction from the hackneyed story. There is a freeway chase scene that is topnotch and competes with the likes of “Matrix Reloaded” and “Terminator 3.” This is the best scene of the movie, and it eventually ends with Captain Howard yelling, “How could you drop a boat?”
While the action and violence gets repetitive, I can’t say I’m tired of that nifty trick where the camera follows the path of a bullet that often makes its way into an unsuspecting person. It gets gory, but at least not boring.
When Mike and Marcus aren’t screaming at each other, they do provide a few hilarious dialogue exchanges. Many critics were appalled by a scene where Mike and Marcus harass a young 15-year-old boy who has come to take Marcus’s daughter out on a date. They grill him with questions using the n-word and one of them eventually puts a gun to his head. While this scene goes too far, there is something about the way Will Smith says, “Ever had sex with a man? Do you want to?” sound funny.
At 144 minutes, “Bad Boys II” will either break you or come close to doing so. It’s loud, violent and full of all the stuff we’ve seen before with a few good jokes to keep us sane. I would not recommend you see both “Bad Boys II” and Jerry Bruckheimer’s other same-week release flick, “Pirates of the Caribbean” in the same day. Combined, they are over 5 hours long and will have you crying for something less painful; less loud, or at least something good. Can anybody say “Seabiscuit?”
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