I think Hollywood has forgotten the term "short but sweet." Almost every movie this summer has been too long, and Bad Boys II continues the trend, with a runtime of two and a half hours, in this fairly entertaining-yet-flawed movie.
It's been 8 years since we last saw Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) on the silver screen. What have they been up to? Well, Mike traded in his Porsche for a shiny new Ferrari and Marcus has been going to therapy for his anger. Mike is still the proverbial "player" and Marcus is still the proverbial, well, "whiner." Oh yeah, they're still Miami narcotics cops, heading up TNT - Tactical Narcotics Team (corny, I know) and their new assignment is to stop the largest shipment of ecstasy ever to come to the United States. But the bad guys are fairly smart this time - they have to be so the movie can be as long as possible without treading into "Titanic" territory - and the Bad Boys have to stop them, with the help of Marcus' DEA sister Syd (Union).
Most of the regulars from the first movie are back, but in much smaller roles. Theresa Randle is back as Marcus' wife, but she's barely on screen and Joe Pantoliano is back as the soon-to-have-a-heart-attack Captain Howard. He's not in the movie much as well, which is a shame because his performance was great in the first one. His performance was great in this movie as well, but there should have been more of it, especially since the movie was so damn long. They kept the smart-ass white kid role, except he's a clerk at an electronics store instead of a clerk at Lowrey's apartment. It does make for a pretty funny part, though.
Which brings us to the Bad Boys themselves. Smith and Lawrence had great chemistry in the first movie, and they still do in this movie. And it even works when it gets a bit emotional between them towards the end, which usually doesn't work when comedic actors do that. But the main problem is it seems as if they went to the Jim Carrey School for the Overacting (See: "Bruce Almighty") to prepare for this movie. It's like they were shot out of a cannon how they go over the top so much, which does work sometimes, like in a hillarious scene where they interrogate a 15-year old boy who's taking Marcus' daughter out on her first date. But there are a lot of scenes where they're just going back and forth, which seems like they just totally threw out the script, which took 4 people to write in the first place. Don't get me wrong, I love improv, if it's done well, but a lot of theirs isn't. Their performances feel like their trying to be scene stealers, but they don't have to steal scenes from anyone since they hog the screen from everyone else.
The best performance comes from Gabrielle Union. She's great as the kid sister who turned into a hard as nails DEA agent. She has a significant amount of screen time, more than most sans the Bad Boys, but like the rest of the supporting cast, she could have been in the movie more as well.The main reason you should see this movie is for the eye candy. Not "hot girl" eye candy like in Bond movies, or "2 Fast 2 Furious" which was filming in Miami at the same time this movie was. Well, there's a little bit of that with Union in a bikini, but I meant eye candy as in explosions and chase scenes. Actually the main chase scene is the best of the summer (yes, better than the "Matrix" and "T3") and one of the best I've ever seen. It's not better than the chase scenes in "The French Connection" and "Ronin," but it's in the same league. That whole scene is worth the price of admission alone. There are a couple of other smaller chase scenes that are pretty good as well, including one with a cameo from Miami's own Dan Marino, but the main one was done extremely well.Along with the chase scenes, there are a lot of gunfighting scenes and explosions and stuff like that. There's one gunfighting scene that is done incredibly well, with the camera rotating around a wall separating Smith and Lawrence from the bad guys who look like they come from the Mafia Department of the Jamaican Bobsled Team. If you go to the movies for eye candy like this, you won't be disappointed in Bad Boys IIThe story, however, might dissapoint you if you go to the movies for good storylines.
The script, written by husband-and-wife scribes Cormac and Marrianne Wibberley along with Ron Shelton and Jerry Stahl, suffers from some corny dialogue, spoken mostly by the bad guys, and riddled with cliches, including one where Lawrence accidentally takes some ecstasy, a scene that has been used as many times as they say the "N" word in the movie. They also tacked on the "everyone-thinks-they're-gay" scene (See: "Bulletproof"). The story kind of goes all over the place, with too many subplots (Lowrey and Syd, Lowrey and Burnett, bad guys feuding, etc.) and a seemingly never-ending plotline that keeps stacking material on to the end, making us wonder when this will ever end. When it finally does end, it ends rather flatly. But what can you expect from the writing team behind "The 6th Day" and "I Spy" (the Wibberley's) and a writer who hasn't written a screenplay in 14 years (Stahl).
Director Michael Bay made his directorial debut with the first "Bad Boys" and went on to make more action movies with "The Rock" "Armageddon" and "Pearl Harbor." In going back to where he got started, Bay directs very smoothly in this movie, with a deft touch behind the camera and a great handle on the chase and action sequences. I think he should have called "cut" a few more times during lengthy diatribes between Smith and Lawrence, but overall, his direction is pretty solid.Bad Boys II is a movie about redemption, a theme common in most Bay movies, but you probably won't see that between all the explosions and chases. If it's eye candy you want, this is just what the doctor ordered. But don't expect to be prescribed much of anything else.