Sony // 1999 // 94 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // November 13th, 2008
He's a cop that's not.
"Got the rock. Time to roll."
Miles Logan (Martin Lawrence, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins) is a very talented professional thief. For quite some time, he has been planning the ultimate heist: to steal a giant diamond worth millions. Logan succeeds in getting the diamond and hiding it away safely, but a few things go wrong and he is arrested. Logan is disappointed, but his sadness is alleviated by the knowledge that he will be incredibly wealthy when he is released. He hid the diamond inside the air duct of a building downtown, and plans to pick it up when his two-year sentence is completed. When that sweet day finally comes, Logan is confronted with yet another disappointment. The building has been transformed in a massive police station, making the job considerably more difficult to pull off. Logan determines that the only way to get the diamond back is to pose as a police detective. It's supposed to be a quick job that takes just a day or two, but Logan quickly demonstrates that his unique knowledge of the criminal mind can come in quite handy. Before long, he finds himself promoted to lead detective of the burglary department. Logan is still determined to get his diamond back, but figures he might as well just take out some of his criminal competition while he's at it.
Blue Streak was directed by Les Mayfield, whose career has been built on unfunny comedies such as Flubber, Encino Man, Code Name: The Cleaner, and The Man. The film stars Martin Lawrence, an occasionally entertaining actor whose resume is defined by painful films like Big Momma's House, What's the Worst That Could Happen, National Security, Black Knight, and Rebound. Blue Streak was produced by Neil H. Moritz, the man who has produced a seemingly endless string of wretched action films, comedies, and teen slasher flicks. A collaboration between these three would seemingly be a recipe for cinematic disaster...but in Hollywood, anything can happen. Someone must have found a magic lamp on the set, because Blue Streak is quite possibly the best film all three men have ever been a part of.
The comedic set-up is pretty simple and formulaic: guy who is a criminal pretends to be a cop, and many hijinks ensue. The execution of this idea is handled with surprising skill, and Blue Streak kept me giggling from start to finish. This is a funny movie, and that surprised me, because I would not consider myself a Martin Lawrence fan. Lawrence is one of those comedians (like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey) who just gets a bit too messy and ruins a perfectly amusing concept when he is not reigned in. Here, he is given a character that suits his comedic talents perfectly. Rather than playing comic agitator, Lawrence is placed on the defensive in Blue Streak; forced to wiggle out of a series of very uncomfortable situations. Attempting to contain chaos typically offers greater comic possibilities than instigating chaos, which is why this film works as well as it does. Consider a scene Lawrence shares with a criminal (played by the immensely funny Dave Chappelle, Chappelle's Show), in which he must convince the police that he is making an arrest and convince Chappelle that he is doing him a favor.
Speaking of Chappelle, the film benefits from a pretty strong supporting cast. We might as well start with Chappelle, who aces every scene he is in. It's a modest supporting role, but even back in 1999, Dave's raw comedic talent was undeniable. He threatens to steal the movie away, but Lawrence's character is engaging and funny enough to keep that from happening. Luke Wilson (My Super Ex-Girlfriend) rides an amusing line between green-behind-the-ears idiocy and deep perceptiveness. Fine character actors like William Forsythe, Peter Greene, and Graham Beckel all bring play their roles completely straight, which only adds humor to the sheer absurdity of the situation.
The hi-def transfer is a rather disappointing one, quite honestly. The image lacks clarity and depth, and there is a surprisingly large amount of grain. Audio is okay, with a solid Edward Shearmur score and busy sound design coming through in a manner that is well-balanced if unremarkable. The mediocre extras are ported over from the DVD release: two 20-minute featurettes (a worthless one from HBO and a decent one created for the DVD), a three music videos from Jay-Z, Tyrese, and So Plush.
The film is very entertaining, but I must admit that the subplot involving Peter Greene gets a little bit tiresome after a while. Greene is just fine in the role, but the movie doesn't give him a whole lot to do, and it's hard to care much about his plotting and scheming. I think that the film could have followed a very similar plot path in a somewhat more entertaining way if it had dropped the Greene character and focused on other elements. Also, the idea that Lawrence could pass himself off as a police detective without getting caught requires a considerable suspension of disbelief.
I've read some harsh criticism of Blue Streak from a few folks out there, and some will argue that Bad Boys, Life, or Nothing to Lose are far superior Lawrence comedies. However, I must honestly report that I've never enjoyed any of Lawrence's movies as much as I enjoyed this one, so I strongly recommend giving it a look. As for this Blu-ray release, I strongly discourage the upgrade. The transfer should have been much stronger, and some new supplements would have been appreciated, too.
The film is not guilty. This release is. Court is adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2008 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (French)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Music Videos