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Bad Boys 2 (2003)

Bad Boys II

Big budget nonsense

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 146 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

The original 'Bad Boys' was one of those rare films whose title served as a succinct, but nonetheless accurate, review. Although making millions at the box office, and propelling Will Smith into Hollywood superstardom, it was basically an annoying buddy-cop action comedy, with a bad script, formulaic shoot-'em-up set-pieces and seriously unfunny comic interludes. Its debuting director Michael Bay moved on to bigger, if not always better, projects – 'The Rock', 'Armageddon', and, ahem, 'Pearl Harbour' – but has now returned home (like a dying cat) for the inevitable sequel 'Bad Boys 2', which just proves that things always go from bad to worse.

As Miami narcotics detectives Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowry (Will Smith) pursue an ecstasy tablet trail to Cuban drugdealer Tapia (Jordi Mollà), they learn that Marcus' sister Syd (Gabrielle Union), working undercover for the DEA, is also after Tapia. Throw in the Ku Klux Klan, some Haitian car-jackers, Russian crimelords, and a relationship between Mike and Syd that no amount of anger management therapy will prevent from irking Marcus, and soon all the predictable mayhem is on again.

It's hard to know where to begin in stating what is wrong with this film. It's overlong and overloud, and there's no chemistry between the two leads. On the few occasions when the script stretches itself beyond macho posturing, it resorts to unbelievably retrograde racial stereotyping of the two black leads, or else to casual slurs against other ethnic groups. Its car chase sequences, despite their impressive scale, are dull and repetitive. Most of the comedy derives from either cheap slapstick (accompanied by lines like 'Now that's some funny shit', to help us notice), the current American obsession with anger management (which was handled much better in, er, 'Anger Management'), or just plain homophobia. The stock scene in which maverick detectives get chewed out by their boss – something of a requirement in a buddy cop flick – appears not once but twice in this film, stretching tired cliché beyond all acceptable limits (even if the boss is played by superb character actor Joe Pantoliano). Just the fact that the supposedly 'killer' drug on the streets is ecstasy makes the whole premise of this film seem ridiculously out of touch with reality.

It is standard for cinematic cops occasionally to 'step over the line', but the 'bad boys' seem only vaguely aware that a line even exists. The unquestioning relish with which they enter properties without warrants, place illegal phone taps, sadistically brutalise witnesses, needlessly provoke violent confrontations and shoot lots and lots of people stonecold dead makes Marcus and Mike deeply unsympathetic figures, and undermines the film's attempts at buddy comedy. Similarly, the almost fetishistic level of graphic violence, with every explosion of bullet on bone shown up close in forensic detail (and sometimes even in slow motion, Sam Peckinpah style), would be fine if this were a hard-hitting drama like 'Dirty Harry', but sits oddly in this film.

'Bad Boys 2' has only one constituency: white adolescent males who want to be black. If you do not fit into this category, stay well away.

It's Got: Endless (if unengaging) action, typically great character (over-)acting from Peter Stormare as a mad Russian crimelord, copulating rats, a small-scale invasion of Cuba, and a surprising quantity of body horror.

It Needs: Excitement, laughs, likeable characters, and some minimal regard for the law from its supposedly law-enforcing leads.


Big budget nonsense, which commits the fatally smug error of supposing that just about anything will acquire charm and wit merely through Will Smith's involvement. 'Bad Boys 2' is full of misfiring humour, inappropriately sadistic violence, and paddle-pool shallowness – just about its only virtue is that, though it seems to last a lifetime, it is thankfully soon forgotten.