Bad Boys II review by Mike Long

Movies are fiction. If you don't understand this, then you may want to get off of the trolley now, because we apparently aren't going to the same destination. However, most films have some nugget of truth upon which the fictional story is built. In order to enjoy the rest of the movie, the filmmakers ask us to suspend our disbelief. Well, prepare yourself for two-and-a-half hours of suspension, as we tackle Bad Boys II, an action film which could easily be placed in the science-fiction section of any video store based on its wacky escapades.

Bad Boys II re-unites Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as Miami narcotics detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. As in Bad Boys, Marcus continues to be a family man, while Mike is a rich-playboy who likes the adrenalin rush of being a cop. As the film opens, Lowery, Burnett, and the rest of the TNT (Tactical Narcotics Team) (which is headed by Henry Rollins!) are investigating shipments of the club-drug Ecstasy, which have been coming in to Miami. The mastermind behind this drug trafficking is Johnny Tapia (Jordi Molla), a Cuban-national who is using caskets and a funeral home to ship the drugs to Miami and cash to Cuba. Mike and Marcus begin to close in on this drug-ring, with the help of Marcus' sister, Sydney (Gabrielle Union), a DEA agent (who is attracted to Mike). But, Johnny Tapia has worked hard to build up his criminal empire, and he's not going down without a fight.

As with another action hit from this summer, Terminator 3, Bad Boys II is very, very short on plot, and long on action. (And, as implied abovie, Bad Boys II is much more of a sci-fi movie than T3.) In most cop movies, one must suspend their disbelief, as the police shoot or attack suspects in ways which would get a real-life officer fired in a second. Bad Boys II is so full of police brutality, that one can only assume that the story occurs in some sort of Judge Dredd-like police-state in which the police have total authority. You'll see Martin Lawrence and Will Smith shoot, punch, and run over criminals right and left, and only receive a lecture from their superior, Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) (who steals all of his scenes). Also, the synopsis above wasn't written so as to hide any spoilers. That's it as far as the story goes. Johnny Tapia is smuggling drugs, and Mike and Marcus must stop him. There are no surprises or plot twists, just action. As if that weren't hackneyed enough, the movie steals shots from Korn's "Freak on a Leash" video, Blade, and Jackie Chan's Police Story, and a scene from Orange County. And don't even get me started on how the Burnett family seems to have moved up in the world since the first movie.

So, clearly Bad Boys II isn't any great brain-buster. Yet, one can't knock the fact that director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer know how to make action films. Bad Boys II is wall-to-wall action and many of the action set-pieces are instant classics, with the highlight being the car-chase in which a car-carrier ejects its payload of automobiles onto the freeway. The finale, although the height of absurdity, is quite rousing as well. Bay's editorial style has slowed-down a fraction since the first film, and while his films may be brain-dead (except for The Rock), he definitely knows how to frame a pretty shot. Bad Boys II has an edge over T3 because of the humor involved. Smith and Lawrence are naturally funny guys and Bad Boys II contains some very humorous moments, my favorite being Lowery's comments concerning a car which he is "test-driving" for a celebrity. The interaction between Smith and Lawrence is very natural and believable, and this comraderie, along with the great action scenes, keep Bad Boys II from being total garbage.

Bad Boys II blasts its way onto DVD from Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.40:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is crystal clear and looks fantastic, exactly the way that one would expect a recent big-budget movie to look. The picture shows virtually no grain and artifacting defects are kept to a bare minimum. Some edge enhancement is noticeable, but isn't distracting. Bay's films are known for their color schemes, and both the bright and dark scenes look fine here. The DVD features an awesome Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, which packs a definite punch during the action scenes, supplying superb bass response and very effective surround sound effects. The dialogue and music are very clear as well. The track has a wide soundfield and the stereo effects sound great.

This 2-disc set contains an unusual mix of extras. Disc 1 holds the theatrical trailer for the film, which has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and features 5.1 sound. Surprisingly, there is no audio commentary on this DVD. The remainder of the extras reside on Disc 2. We start with 7 deleted scenes, all of which are brief and incidental. Next up are two featurettes -- Stunts (9 minutes) features stunt coordinator Andy Gill, as he explains the complexity of the action scenes in Bad Boys II. The freeway chase scene is examined in great detail; Visual Effects (19 minutes) looks at how CGI effects were used to enhance the action in the film, and shows how seamless some of the effects in the film were. With Sequence Breakdowns, the viewer is taken inside six scenes from the film and has the option of viewing the completed scene, viewing behind-the-scene on-set video, perusing the storyboards for the scene, and reading the script pages for that scene. This unique feature gives the viewer an incredibly amount of information about each scenes. Next up is a section called "Production Diaries" which contains 19 sub-sections. This is basically a highly-detailed making-of featurette which has been broken down into chapters. These segments look at all facets of the film and contain a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage. The extras are rounded out with a music video from Jay Z for the song "La-La-La".

6 out of 10 Jackasses

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