BAD BOYS II was a big hit in 2003, the 10th highest grosser of the year, its $273,300,000 haul yet another sad nail in the coffin bearing the decomposing remains of popular culture. Its paltry strong points—some sleek camera work and one outstanding chase sequence—can’t redeem the full-frontal assault of smugness, witlessness and meanness from director, writers and stars, an atrocious squander of $130,000,000 pandering to common denominators so low that 13-year-old boys should be insulted.
The ‘creative team’ of director Michael Bay and producers Don Simpson & Jerry Bruckheimer had a smash in 1995 teaming then-hot comedian Martin Lawrence (we are unamused) with fast-rising actual talent Will Smith, as two Miami cop buddies who talk trash and spray around enough lead to sink Florida. Eight years later, with Smith a major star and recent Oscar nominee (from Ali), Bay & Bruckheimer bring the boys (‘hood’ millionaires) back to battle a Cuban drug lord (Jordi Mollá) who’s flooding Miami with ‘ecstasy’. Before the when-will-it-stop? excess—which drags in the KKK, Russian mobsters and Haitian thugs—has expelled its last stupid joke and shredded corpse, 147 minutes have been taken from your life. For this sort of action nonsense, 90 would suffice, if the script was any good and the director capable of any restraint. No such luck, as the lazy swear-soaked dialogue is pathetic, whether it was written in the script by Ron Shelton (his worst) and Jerry Stahl, or improvised on set by the producer-coddled/bullied ‘we-so-damn-funny’ leads. As to Bay showing any restraint, apart from the wham-bam, somersaulting demolition of cars, trucks, buildings and boats, his insistence on graphic, off-hand carnage shown to human bodies, living and dead (cadaver cavity humor for the kids), and done for cheap gags, is not just obnoxious, but repellent.
Reviews flayed it for being derivative, loud, vicious, sexist, racist and wasteful. Throw in phony go-USA! b.s. during the idiotic, slaughterous last act set in Cuba, not only peddling propaganda crap about that government supporting the drug trade but setting up a shantytown-wrecking stunt that makes a mockery of dire poverty.
My initial exposure was selective, watching the excerpt of the aforementioned chase scene on a buddy’s big TV during a beer-fueled clip-nite. Impressed—the stunt-crazy extravaganza sequence that starts in a parking garage, does a quick emulation of the shootout from Heat and then careens onto the MacArthur Causeway is for sure a real dazzler—your diligent cine-scout duly earmarked watching the full feature until some later date. When that time arrived, fortified by knowing that cool actors like Mollá (Blow), Michael Shannon and Jon Seda were in the cast, and that co-star Gabrielle Union was sufficiently hot to ignite the Everglades, my bad boy self bit the bullet and stuck out the whole sorry, endless dispiriting thing. One good thing: visiting the first Bad Boys and salivating over the upcoming Bad Boys for Life are hereby on permanent lockdown.
Also on deck: Peter Stormare, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano, Otto Sanchez, Yul Vazquez, Kiko Ellsworth and Henry Rollins. Cinematography by Amir Mokri.