BAD BOYS II
Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith,
Jordi Molla, Gabrielle Union, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano
Director: Michael Bay
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 147 Minutes
Release Date: December 9, 2003
THROWIN' CARS! HOW'D I NOT SEE THAT?!"
It's always hard to
come across a sequel to a good movie that even begins to peak a hint of quality
over its predecessor. Such examples of the virtually impossible from my
perspective are Blade II, Superman II,
The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2) and of
course, The Empire Strikes Back, for
starters. With 2003 being one of the biggest years for sequels in quite
sometime, only a couple of releases, such as X2 and The Matrix Reloaded
managed to amount to anything worth remembering. However, the one that blew the
competition away, not just for sequels but for action movies in general, is the
ultra-explosive Bad Boys II, which has
earned a place on that prestigious list of great second installments.
When the first Bad
Boys came out in 1995, it wasn't expected to do as impressively well as it
did. As it turns out, both the studio and mega-producers Don Simpson and Jerry
Bruckheimer didn't seem to have much faith in the movie. It managed to have a
budget of only $20 million, in addition to being directed by a then-first timer
named Michael Bay. But with Bay's extraordinary photogenic vision, along with
the power charisma of stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, the movie went
beyond everyone's expectations.
Since then, Bay,
Smith and Lawrence each went on to much bigger projects, so it seemed like no
less than a miracle if there was to ever be a sequel. Eight long years later, a
miracle proved to exist. Reuniting with producer Bruckheimer, director Bay and
the two leads were able to make Bad Boys
II explode onto screens. Despite some unfairly harsh reviews from critics,
it was a huge hit with the public, just as the first one was. Although the movie
does represent the buddy cop formula, it dazzles the screen with elaborate
action sequences unlike anything ever conceived.
Smith and Lawrence
are back in full action comedy mode as Miami cops Mike Lowery and Marcus
Burnett. This time around, the two have upgraded their status as leaders of an
elite task force called Tactical Narcotics Team, or TNT. Miami has seen a huge
increase of ecstasy pills being imported and distributed. Notorious Cuban drug
lord Johnny Tapia (Jordi Molla) has been masterminding the flow of X, which he
has shipped to Miami through smuggling the pills inside human corpses. Tapia
happens to double as the proprietor of a mortuary, which provides the easy
matters is the involvement of Marcus' sister, Syd (Gabrielle Union), a DEA agent
from New York who has gotten involved way over her head in an elaborate federal
sting operation designed to nail Tapia. Not only does it make it difficult for
them professional wise, but matters also get personal when Marcus discovers that
Mike has been seeing Syd for a matter of months. It doesn't sit well with
Marcus, who's been Mike's best friend all his life but knows all too well about
his rep as a playboy.
I honestly didn't
think I would ever see any action scenes which could rival the stunning freeway
chase of The Matrix Reloaded, and
what's even more surprising to note is that Bad
Boys II doesn't feature a standout action sequence…all of them are
standouts and masterfully choreographed through Bay's specific vision. Bay made
a clear choice to include as little CGI as possible, if none at all, which is
the main reason the action is so darn effective. Case in point, a
heart-pounding, breath-gasping freeway chase early in the movie. Lowery and
Burnett, in the confines of silver Ferarri, are pursuing a gang of Hatians who
are connected to an ecstasy deal. The Hatians have taken control of a
car-carrier truck. After letting off endless round of ammo, the thugs decide to
take their pursuers out by dumping the cars onto the freeway. The end result is
an intense game of automobile dodge ball, and pure experience of the senses. The
cars land, flip and destroy oncoming traffic at rampant speed.
scene comes during a shootout at the residence of the very same gang. Now you
may wonder, how can a simple shootout be so exciting? Well, Bay found a way to
do it, by creating a set piece that could allow a multiple 360 degree angle
shot, which shows action in both areas of shooting between the cops and the gang
members. It shows what Michael Bay is and always has been capable of, which is
elevating standard action to a whole new level.
And it doesn't stop
there. There's a grand finale in store, as the cops cross over to Cuba to take
down Tapia, who has taken Syd as a hostage in exchange for drug profit. I don't
want to give any hints about the climax, except to say that rarely have I had
the feeling of being in the middle of a war zone while watching a movie. And is
if what happens there isn't enough, a climatic Hummer chase, which leads up to
standoff on a land mine field ought to trigger a jolt in you.
I haven't even
begun to mention that the movie is also downright HILARIOUS! Like its
predecessor, Bad Boys II finds endless
spots for some outrageous moments. Such as the case when Mike and Marcus try to
view a videotape of potential evidence in an audio/video store, which is then
followed by a scene where Marcus confesses to Mike a certain kind of pain he's
experiencing (a scene that you may have to rewind to see again to catch the
words you missed from laughing so hard).
More hilarity in
sues, when the two decide to punk a boy who has come to take Marcus' daughter
out on a first date. This scene got hammered in just about every negative review
for being too offensive, but I for one found it to be a howler of a moment, and
was not offended at all (maybe its just me). And lastly, there's a scene late in
the movie where Marcus accidentally swallows a pair of ecstasy pills, which
again, I'll leave for you to discover.
As far as action
movies in 2003 go, there's no competition; Bad
Boys II is the top winner.
Boys II is simply one of those movies that has pure DVD potential written all
over it, in terms of picture and sound quality. And make no mistake about it,
Columbia Tri Star has created the ultimate DVD experience of the year. The
anamorphic offering is the epitome of a top of the line flawless transfer,
soaring in every possible aspect. You couldn't ask for a crisper and clearer
picture, which ranks with some of the best looking discs of all time. The colors
are most astounding, helping to make Miami hotter than ever. A sure fire
candidate for top video quality of the year.
I have officially
selected my top choice for best sound performance of the year. Right from the
opening logos, the 5.1 mix on the disc may be as close as I'll ever get to a DTS
performance. Not only does the action sound incredible, and I stress the word incredible,
but every aspect of audio quality in this presentation is nothing short of
masterful. A big factor is Trevor Rabin's knockout score is delivered in a
pulse-pounding mode, which accompanies the action strongly. Dialogue and
settings also provide wonderful amounts of clarity. CTS has delivered one
power-packed transfer of both audio and picture, which is likely to topple the
competition by year's end.
Even with the
disadvantage of not including a commentary track, Columbia Tri Star's 2 disc
offering does manage to contain quite an arsenal of feats.
Disc 1 includes the
movie, and a trailer gallery.
Disc 2 includes two
individual featurettes, one on stunts and the other on visual effects. Also
included are production diary vignettes which cover just about every aspect of
shooting the movie. Also featured are seven deleted scenes, sequence breakdowns,
and a music video for Jay-Z's "La La La". As light as the features may
sound, this actually offers one of the more in-depth looks at moviemaking that
you're likely to find on any disc of recent memory, which gives this disc a
boost of extra credit.