Wretched movie, yet incredible action. Argh! It's enough to blow judges% logic circuitry.
Whatcha gonna do…again?
In 1995, director Michael Bay made his directorial debut with the action packed hit Bad Boys. Starring Will Smith (Independence Day) and Martin Lawrence (National Security), Bad Boys proved that all three men had the box office clout to open a smug, empty action film. Because anything that makes money in Hollywood is open to being rehashed again and again and again until it's long past its expiration date, Bad Boys II hit theaters in 2003 with Smith, Lawrence, and Bay all returning to their respective roles. Originally released on DVD in a "special edition," Bad Boys II makes its return engagement on Sony's Superbit DVD line.
Facts of the Case
Miami narcotics detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are back to teach criminals that they can run but they can't hide from the law—or their version of it, I guess—in director Michael Bay's bombastic Bad Boys II. This time around, Mike and Marcus are up against a vicious drug smuggler, Johnny Tapia (Jordi Molla), who is using coffins, mortuaries, and bodies to transport their ecstasy from one place to another. Mike and Marcus's aggravated police captain (Joe Pantoliano, The Matrix) attempts to keep them on a short leash, but to no avail—the boys will do anything to bring down Tapia, who has been arrested dozens of times by the Miami Police Department but never convicted. When Marcus's sister and Mike's new love interest Sydney (Gabrielle Union, Love and Basketball) gets caught up in the action, it's up to these two gun totin', pistol whippin' detectives to save the day.
I liked Bad Boys II much more than I liked the original Bad Boys, and I wasn't crazy about Bad Boys II. That should give you an idea of how much I truly disliked the original film. Michael Bay's up-the-ante sequel Bad Boys II is a soulless exercise in explosions, meanness, and violence—this film would be deplorable if the action scenes weren't so exhilarating.
So I'm at an impasse as to how to review Bad Boys II. On one hand, I think the film is a very cruel, misogynist, vile mess that seems above almost everyone's talent levels involved. What drew Will Smith to this material? He's starred in much better fare and is funnier when his comedy is gentle. Martin Lawrence I expect this from (his humor has never sat well with me), even though he's playing the role in the film that Smith would be better of inhabiting. Mike and Marcus are two of the most egotistical, self-centered "heroes" I've ever seen in a film like this—we're supposed to root for them, but how can we when they treat their peers, family members, and audience with such contempt?
Normally I don't try to shoot you off to another review—I want you to read what I have to say, in all my self-absorbed glory. However, I came across Roger Ebert's review of Bad Boys II. Go ahead and read it—it's linked in The Accomplices—then come back here so I can finish up.
Okay, are you finished? Good.
I agree wholeheartedly with everything he said about the film. The scene between Smith and Lawrence and the young suitor is reprehensible. The lead heroes are monsters, caring little that they're (most likely) maiming and killing innocent people on their way to catching a couple of drug smugglers. Smith and Lawrence walk around the film with an attitude that turned me off to many of the dramatic elements in the film (if you want to call them that). In other words, the movie is irresponsible, mean spirited, and downright ugly most of the way through. And yet…
I have to admit I was entertained by the action sequences. As much as I think the screenplay is godawful, the big budget stunts look great. At the beginning of the film, there's a fantastic freeway chase between the good guys and the bad guys that lead to at least a two dozen cars flying everywhere, a few highway explosions, and a boat racing out of control down the wrong way of a one way road. That was fun. And I also liked the sequence where a morgue van flies down the highway, throwing bodies every which way—it wasn't pretty, but I've got to admit it was something I'd never seen before. And when a bad guy gets blown up by land mines…well, I'm always up for a good land mine sequence. In a movie, at least.
Yet Bad Boys II is still an ugly movie. And yet I liked the action scenes. But it's a pretty bad flick. Oh, but the action sequences are dy-no-mite! Aww, this indecision will never end. Just rent Bad Boys II for yourself and see if it's worth keeping in your collection (I kept my copy, but my dignity meter went down by three notches).
Bad Boys II: Superbit Edition is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. Simply put, this transfer looks fantastic. I'm not sure how the original release looked, but this Superbit edition of Bad Boys II is in great shape. The colors are bright and clear without any bleeding in the picture. The black levels appear sharp and darkly tinted. There are no noticeable defects in the transfer—grain, dirt, and any other imperfections are absent. While the folks who will benefit from the high bitrate are those with high-end video equipment, casual fans will also be thrilled with how good Bad Boys II looks.
The soundtrack is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and DTS Surround, both in English. Hoo-wee! Columbia has made sure this track practically blows you out of your viewing seat! There are a ton of surround sounds to be found here and they run nearly the entire length of the film. Both the front and rear speakers were in constant use throughout, each flinging crashes, explosions, and gunfire every which way. Fidelity and dynamic range are precise and wide spread—both the DTS and Dolby 5.1 mix are in great shape. Also included on this disc are Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, and Korean subtitles.
As with most all of Columbia's Superbit titles, Bad Boys II: Superbit Edition doesn't include a single solitary extra feature.
On one hand, I think Bad Boys II is a well-crafted action movie. On the other, it's a void of any emotional feeling and deep characterization—the flick is as hollow as the DVD case it arrives in. I guess your enjoyment of the film will have to depend on if you can stand the fantastic stunt work while watching and hearing brainless dialogue and bad performances. Columbia's new Superbit edition of Bad Boys II is good, though I doubt those who have the original release will feel the need to upgrade (unless you've got $10,000 in home theater electronics).
Bad Boys II is bad, yet I can't hide the fact I liked the action. Oh, why aren't things ever just black and white?
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