- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2003

One thing I didn’t expect from “Bad Boys II” was Bay of Pigs II. Explosions, car wrecks and firefights — sure. But a covert-ops mission into Cuba?

Without going into plot-spoiling detail, let’s just say the half-hour sequence was grafted pointlessly onto a movie that, at two hours, already had gone over the top, down to the bottom and back to the top again.

But that’s the Jerry Bruckheimer-Michael Bay hallmark of action farce we have come to know and … well, love is a strong word.

Audiences don’t so much love the creations of this producer-director duo (they collaborated on the first “Bad Boys,” “The Rock,” “Armageddon” and “Pearl Harbor”) as submit to them.

They’re like pornographic movies without explicit sex. You know you’re watching something predictable and cheap, but you’re titillated just the same.

That’s about the sum of “Bad Boys II,” an eight-years-later sequel that once again pairs Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, brotherly, bickering partners on the Miami Police Department’s drug squad.

Their squabbles become more prickly than ever when Burnett’s yummy sister (Gabrielle Union), a Drug Enforcement Administration agent named Sydney, comes into the picture — but a serious rupture would have been too much for a flimsy story that, admirably in a way, never aspires to anything beyond light entertainment.

In this vainglorious go-round, Burnett and Lowrey track a Cuban drug lord (Jordi Molla) running designer ecstasy from Amsterdam through a Miami mortuary and distributing it with the help of, quite ridiculously, the Ku Klux Klan.

The white-sheeted ones are good for nothing more than an opening scene in which Mr. Smith and Mr. Lawrence pop out from under their hoods to bust up the operation; after that, they’re pretty much dropped.

Running the predictability department is Mr. Molla’s drug magnate: He’s all twitchy paranoia and mercurial violence, the archetypal and, by now, very boring, Hispanic archcriminal.

Also lame is the otherwise talented Joe Pantoliano as the archetypally by-the-book police captain who’s at his wit’s end coping with his underlings’ shenanigans. Think of every one of “Dirty Harry” Callahan’s bosses or the chief in the “Lethal Weapon” movies, another very old and stupid typecast.

Odd for an action-comedy, there sure are a lot of corpses in “BBII.” Corpses falling out of a speeding hearse and then getting squished by oncoming traffic; corpses being probed for smuggled goods; a dismembered corpse’s extremities spilling out of a trash can during a shakedown confrontation.

Color me desensitized if I found these unsightly gags inoffensively unremarkable.

Which isn’t to say the jokes don’t work in this movie. Most of the time, they do. Even if its plot is farcical and incredible (in the literal sense of that word), “BBII” scores big in the laugh department, thanks to the Smith-Lawrence duo’s hammy chemistry.

Burnett’s ersatz spirituality and pacifism become an annoying trope, but Mr. Smith and Mr. Lawrence are, more often than not, hilarious together. When they put the fear of God into a polite, unassuming 15-year-old suitor who comes to pick up Burnett’s daughter for a date, they’re as good as any comedy team in movie history.

Those moments make “BBII” a worthwhile sequel way more than the junkyard-filling stunts with which the movie constantly assaults its audience.

Don’t expect anything mind-blowing from “Bad Boys II.” Ear-blowing and eye-popping, maybe. But then, if you have read this far, you already know that.


TITLE: “Bad Boys II”

RATING: R (Action and graphic violence; pervasive profanity; sexuality; drug content)

CREDITS: Directed by Michael Bay. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson. Cinematography by Amir M. Mokri.

RUNNING TIME: 150 minutes.


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