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There must have been two hundred and forty shots in the first one hundred and twenty seconds of Bad Boys II. That amounts to two shots per second. Makes no sense, does it? Well, neither does Bad Boys II. The last time a director and his stars waited eight years to re-team for a sequel to a buddy cop sleeper was Another 48 Hrs. As we always learn the hard way, history does repeat itself. While this sequel is ten times more kinetic than the original, it is also an empty-headed bubble of testosterone that explodes in the viewer’s face, potentially scarring them for the duration of the film.
Michael Bay returns to direct Martin Lawrence and Will Smith as Miami narcotics cops Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey, once again on a mission to dethrone another drug kingpin (Jordi Mollà), this time intent on controlling the flow of ecstasy in Miami (updated from the heroin in the superior original). During the investigation—and by “investigation,” I mean “car chases”—Lowrey forms a relationship with Marcus’ younger sister (Gabrielle Union), a DEA Agent also connected to the case. Also returning are Theresa Randle (as Burnett’s wife) and Joe Pantoliano (as the obligatory angry police captain, who breathes the mantra “woosah” to calm himself down). Pantoliano, in his few scenes, is an absolute riot.
The plot is completely irrelevant, as with nearly every movie released from May 1st to August 31st. The real draw is an outstanding action sequence plopped right smack in the middle of the film as the centerpiece. I had always envisioned an extravagant car chase that involved a carrier truck (the type that harnesses eight to ten cars) dropping its cargo onto the street like flies to slow down the heroes. This is the third highly touted freeway chase of the summer (after the f/x-driven one in The Matrix Reloaded and another Miami-set demolition derby in 2 Fast 2 Furious) and easily the most exciting, featuring spectacular stunts and ignoring the temptation to load the sequence full of phony-looking CGI, giving the viewer the real temptation to utter the word “whoa.”
“Whoa” soon turns to “woe” as the film becomes more and more tiresome. The banter remains the same in nearly every scene as the events tumble from one shoot-out to another, offering only misogynistic jabs to give the viewer rest. And on that subject, it is made perfectly clear that Michael Bay hates women. While this note was only hinted at in Armageddon and Pearl Harbor (in both films, the non-disaster related drama was a direct result of a foolhardy female), Bay comes out of the closet to reveal a true loathing for the opposite gender. In his orange-colored universe, women are only strippers, models, or teases. So call me a fool, but I thought Bay had really matured as a filmmaker with his old-fashioned war epic Pearl Harbor. He ends up going back to square one and comes up with zero.
The chemistry is still good between Smith and Lawrence because their relationship appears to have grown since the last film. Most important, the relationship continues to grow through the characters' understanding of one another. Smith also displays much more comfort with Lawrence for this sequel than he did when he re-teamed with Tommy Lee Jones for Men in Black II. I could see why they have made it clear in interviews that they are eager to re-team for a Bad Boys III.
At 146 minutes, Bad Boys II ends up showing every move the heroes and villains make, so there are no surprises whatsoever. A smart action movie would know what to leave out for the viewer to be surprised, or watch in excitement as another character learns something new. The film shows us everything so there is nothing left for us to figure out on our own. And there is nothing satisfying about a movie with no surprises. The only real surprise is how terribly overlong the entire venture is. This is a 2-hour movie bloated to 2 ½ hours but ends up feeling like three, tumbling from one hopeful climax to another. Bad Boys II goes nowhere, and takes a long time to get there.