Sony // 1995 // 118 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // May 26th, 2003
Whatcha gonna do?
Let me tell you what I'm gonna do if I see this movie coming my way: I'm gonna turn around and run quickly in the opposite direction. Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but I will be briskly perambulating. I am the target audience for this film, as I love action films. The more bullets, explosions, and mindless violence displayed in a film, the more likely I am to view it and enjoy it. Bad Boys is somewhat of an exception to that rule. It's not that I harbor any malice for Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor) in his directorial debut. On the contrary, I think Bay did a solid job with this film, and it isn't as derivative and plain stupid as some of his successive works. So what is it that kept me from enjoying this film, barely remembering the plot, and avoiding it in all incarnations for all this time? That would be Martin Lawrence.
There was a day way back (1995!) when Lawrence (Big Momma's House, Blue Streak, Nothing to Lose) garnered top billing before costar Will Smith (MIB, ID4, Ali). Unfortunately, that's the rub. As Lawrence is the top dog and gets more screen time, I grew to hate his character. I just cannot stand the way he comes across: whiny, bumbling, clunky, stilted, and somewhat stupid. Actually, he's just downright annoying. He's obviously playing this movie role with the sheath of his old comedy persona wrapped around him. At least that's how I remember him from back then. But I don't want to see that in a movie. Quit tripping over your words and get to the point. Stop stammering and figure out what you have to do. Don't be such a wimp; you're a "bad boy." Stand up for yourself! But, that's not who he's supposed to be and it gets on my last nerve. And that's why I've forgotten this film over the past eight years.
But if you can tolerate Lawrence's performance, then the rest of the movie isn't all that terrible. Yes, there is some awful dialogue and clumsy exposition; yes, Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix, Memento) is not the most inspiring police captain; and, yes, Téa Leoni (Jurassic Park III, Deep Impact) isn't so hot when she's not blonde. However, as an action movie, the film does work. Bay, if nothing else, knows how to shoot this type of movie, and the action sequences are first rate. They're a lot of fun, and the explosions are big! And, dare I forget to mention Will Smith? Though his name is still listed second to Lawrence for the sequel, Bad Boys II, Smith is placed in front of Lawrence's character. We can only hope he's the big dog in that film, for his character is far more appealing and likable, and it doesn't hurt that Smith is the better actor of the two as well. I also have to give small credit to the writers during the "revelation" scene with Lawrence, Smith, and Leoni. It was nice to see that Leoni's character wasn't a complete idiot and had figured out that the two cops had switched identities. Thank goodness she wasn't stunned when Lawrence's wife showed up at the door.
Setting all that aside, we come to the major problem with this latest release -- its name is Superbit. The evil continues to thrive and milk people out of their hard-earned money. With a suggested retail price of $26.95, Bad Boys Superbit will flat out rob you if you're stupid enough to buy this disc. Do not buy this disc! The Superbit titles are a complete waste of money for 99% of the DVD-watching population. You likely do not own equipment that is capable of utilizing whatever marginal quality improvement this line may possess. You are completely better off paying $19.95 MSRP for the Special Edition of this movie, which has equally solid transfers and an additional lineup of bonus materials. Yes, that's right. You'll pay less and get more from the Special Edition versus the bare bones Superbit title. As we continue to say here at The Verdict, the Superbit line does not provide any noticeable video or audio difference when compared to other well-produced titles from other studios. So, while the video is solid -- though not perfect, as I did detect some occasional shimmering -- and the DTS track is very good, the Superbit line is an overpriced sham. Do not contemplate this disc. It's good, but it's not that good. Please work with us in trying to stop the madness!
By the way, in case you don't know the gist of the movie, here's a quick synopsis. Smith and Lawrence are narcotics officers in Miami. They've recently confiscated a very large shipment of heroin, which is locked up at police headquarters. With some brilliant derring-do, a group of really bad guys steal the drugs right out from under the cops' noses. As it was their bust, Lawrence and Smith's Captain assigns them the task of finding the drugs before the DEA and FBI take over the case. They have less than 72 hours to save their department's reputation.
Let the mayhem begin!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 6.0 ES (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated R