Twitter Plot Summary: Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett return for more mad adventures trying to stop a Cuban drug lord.
Armed with a bigger budget, better cameras and more wisecracks, Michael Bay returns with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in tow for another round of shenanigans. This time the wisecrack quota has been increased, the action ramped up, and the explosions unleashed like a caged animal being released into the wild. Welcome to the world of Bad Boys II y’all. Your lives will never be the same again.
What is apparent from the off is that Bay has clearly spent too long watching his own films. The first Bad Boys wasn’t exactly subtle, but Bad Boys II is almost a parody of itself. It manages to steer clear of going completely down that route, but it’s not far off. Suffice to say, the jokes are effective because they’re one brushstroke away from spoofing themselves. In my mind, Mel Brooks is stood just out of frame in every shot of the film, subtly willing them to make things as silly as possible.
The female company isn’t in the same mould as Tea Leoni’s role in the first film, in that case someone who is incapable of protecting herself despite having Master Assassin level skills of sarcasm and running your mouth. Instead we get Marcus’ sister Syd, who is not only an undercover agent with the DEA but is also in a secret relationship with Lowrey. While it’s a step forward as far as gender politics are concerned, Syd is still a female character in a Michael Bay film, so she’s still going to be little else than eye candy and second fiddle to Smith and Lawrence. And, sadly, that proves to be the case.
But it is in the central characters that the film’s strength really lies. Smith and Lawrence are an entertaining pair, a typical buddy cop formula that they carry off with far more aplomb than the script deserves. Without these two and their bickering, this would be a far poorer film and would have far less to recommend. Bearing in mind that Martin Lawrence has made such tripe as Black Knight and Big Momma’s House in the past, it’s surprising to find him in a half-decent role.
Good job too, because once more the villain is sadly lacking. Jordi Molla does what he can as Johnny Tapia, but he’s yet another nearly invisible presence for the most part. It’s potentially difficult to portray a drug lord as someone with shades of grey to his personality, but someone more like Ed Harris in The Rock would be a good template to use.
What Bay does well, and has always done well, is big dumb action sequences, and Bad Boys II is yet another good example of his skill in this area. It’s a frequent cliche about Bay loving to blow things up, but he does happen to be rather good at it. The sad thing is, as far as he as a filmmaker is concerned, you can’t have the big explosive action without the misogyny and lad’s humour. This is precisely why Bad Boys II is reduced to nothing more than a guilty pleasure at best.