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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Bad Boys II

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2003 at 12:00 AM

It takes a pretty big explosion to impress in these days of $100 million action movies, and Bad Boys II makes every effort to please the in-laws. Laden with pyrotechnics worthy of the Fourth of July at the White House and featuring enough scattered, anonymous bodies to fill a mass grave, the sequel to the flick that put the Fresh Prince on the movie map is a boomfest that picks up right where its predecessor left off. This is neither a good nor a bad thing — if you like no talk and all action, then either Bad Boys movie is right up your alley. If not, you’re not going to see it anyway, so look elsewhere for entertainment (perhaps in Johnny Depp’s buccaneer, be-dredded goatee).

Free of Tea Leoni’s misguided effort to act her way out of a paper bag that plagued Bad Boys, II introduces both a love interest for playboy Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and a raison d’être for fraidy-cat Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) in the person of Sydney (Gabrielle Union), Marcus’ DEA agent sister. Miami being the chosen haven of all drug kingpins, Sydney arrives in town from New York just in time to infiltrate the camp of Cubanismo drug runner Johnny Tapia (Jordi Mollà).

What Sydney doesn’t understand, though, is that Mike and Marcus are the ones who do the drug takedowns in South Beach, and that they — much like their enemies — will stop at nothing to get what they want, no matter what the body count. Then again, if she knew that her brother and lover subscribed to the shoot-’em-up video-game school of police work, instead of being kidnapped to Castro country she’d be sitting bored at home while the boys have all the fun. And girls, we all know, wanna have fun too.

What makes the Bad Boys movies as entertaining as they are is that they’re so clearly fiction — stuff like this can only happen on a screen, not in three dimensions, because the media and police brass would be all over a pair of basically rogue cops faster than Smith can say, “West Philadelphia.” There’s not a damn thing that’s real in Bad Boys II, from Marcus’ strange reliance on an annoying, overused therapy technique that involves chanting and earlobe pulling to the relentless rain of bodies hitting the ground, shot by narcotics police.

The only real thing is the chemistry between Smith and Lawrence, which is still present after nearly a decade. They work well together, even if it is a little strange to see squeaky-clean Will back in the haughty trust-fund-baby role that made him back in 1995. He
doesn’t look any worse for the wear, but the years are starting to roll up on Lawrence.

Director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, those purveyors of fine action, will need to move fast if they want to make a Bad Boys III. Miami’s infrastructure can only hold together so long when it’s been so completely riddled with good-guy bullets.

Erin Podolsky writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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