Saturday, June 1, 2024

Review: "BAD BOYS" Has Had a Surprisingly Long Life

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 113 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

Bad Boys (1995)
Running time:  119 minutes (1 hour, 59 minutes)
MPAA – R for intense violent action and pervasive strong language
DIRECTOR:  Michael Bay
WRITERS:  Michael Barrie, Jim Mulholland, and Doug Richardson; from a story by George Gallo
PRODUCERS:  Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson
EDITOR:  Christian Wagner
COMPOSER:  Mark Mancina


Starring:  Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Tea Leoni, Joe Pantoliano, Tcheky Karyo, Theresa Randle, Marg Helgenberger, Nestor Serrano, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Saverio Guerra, Michael Imperioli, and Karen Alexander

As usual, a cog in the Hollywood system had written an action/comedy for Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey, two funny white men.  Perhaps, the white studio bosses never thought of persons of colors playing the parts and playing them not only well, but also better than the actors of the default skin color.  By happy accident, two tremendously talented comic actors, who also happened to be men of color inherited the parts, and, thus was born Bad Boys.  Lord knows, we can never again think of Lovitz and Carvey, two milky-white Americans, as proper for these roles, not that there’s anything wrong with one’s skin color being that white.

Bad Boys is a 1995 American buddy-cop film and action-comedy directed by Michael Bay.  Bad Boys focuses on two savvy, Black detectives who try to protect a witness to murder while also investigating the theft of heroin from their police precinct’s evidence room.

Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) are two hip detectives; at least they seem cooler than their Miami PD colleagues, but they can take the heat that comes with their job.  As the film begins, they’ve already made a major heroin bust, but a gang of well-equipped thieves breaks into the precinct’s evidence room and steals the dope.  Obviously, the raid is an inside job, so the precinct takes the blame.  Burnett and Lowrey’s Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) feels the heat and returns it to the boys, putting the onus on them to find the dope.  Making matters more complicated, they get saddled with protecting Julie Mott (Tea Leoni) a murder witness somehow connected to the smack thieves.

According to stories from the set of Bad Boys, director Michael Bay, Lawrence, and Smith hated the script, so they ad-libbed a lot of the dialogue.  This was Bay’s first feature film, but he’d made a name for himself directing music videos for Tina Turner and “Wilson Phillips” (among others) and commercials for Nike and Budweiser (among others).  Bay brings all the visual flair and clich├ęs you could expect from music videos: quick-cut editing, dark alleyways full of steam, sexy chicks, and hot cars.  He mixed in car chases, tremendous explosions, cartoonish violence, and gunfights with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.  Smith and Lawrence brought the comedy and the hip sensibility to play the characters so over the top that you’d think they were heroes right out of a comic book.  It works to an extent.  Bad Boys is a very funny, exciting, and visually agile action movie.

If anything, it’ll be remembered for its African-American leads, unusual for an cop buddy movie/action flick.  Beyond that, Bay introduced his over the top visual style that he would bring all his heart-pounding, action vehicles:  slow motion camera buzzing around a posing action stud, panoramic shots of the sky, narrow escapes from devastating fire balls, etc.  Bad Boys is pleasant and fun, nothing important, but it stands out in the white bread world of Hollywood action romps.  Certainly, Lawrence and Smith are more believable as renegade cops than say, Josh Hartnett or Ben Affleck.

6 of 10
★★★ out of 4 stars

Edited:  Friday, June 28, 2024

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