Monday, January 25, 2010

Bad Boys 2

2003’s Bad Boys 2, is an exercise in American excess. From run time (147 minutes), to production budget ($130 million), all the way to the adlibbed hollering between franchise stars Martin Lawrence and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air that makes up the bulk of the dialogue, everything is huge.

This is one of two Michael Bay movies I like. The other is the World War II comedy, Pearl Harbor, easily one of the top ten funniest movies I’ve ever seen.

Every three to five second shot in Bad Boys 2 is an undertaking. Nearly every frame has a slow motion dive, two blazing pistols, multiple explosions, and some CGI bullets whizzing around like roided up mosquitoes. I’m pretty sure that every shot in this movie cost more money than I will ever make in my lifetime.

Like any good action movie, Bad Boys 2 doesn’t waste time with plot or story. They didn’t even want to waste my time on the way to the Cineplex by giving it a subtitle. No, this is not Bad Boys 2: Hey, look at the trouble those wacky cops got into to now. No, this is Bad Boys 2; they ain’t got time to fuck around with any of that other nonsense. All you need to know is that, yes, this is part of the Bad Boys franchise, and guess what, this is the second installment. The producers are essentially saying that you don’t need to worry your pretty little head about the details.

We start off in the swamps of Florida where a heavily armed SWAT team is about to take down a bunch of cross burning KKK members/drug dealers. Who, you might ask, do they send in to infiltrate this den of racist bootleggers? I’ll tell you who, they made the smart choice, and send in Martin Lawrence and Big Willy. That’s right, they send in the two black guys undercover into a Klan rally. That is where the logic of this movie lies. I can only assume that this decision was based on their respective bantering skills, of which they make quick and frequent use, right up until everything around them goes up in a goddamned firestorm. How do you not love a movie where the first scene is a firefight with a well-armed racist army? (Except Miami Vice, that movie sucked.)

Here is all that you need to know about the plot. Much like the first go round, Martin Lawrence and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s sidekick are partners in the Miami Police department, which apparently operates like it’s own vigilante justice force. Seriously, at one point they invade a foreign nation. Martin is frustrated with the shenanigans of his hetero-life-mate, and is contemplating a change in careers. There is a cartoonish drug dealer that they absolutely must take down. Everything else is completely incidental, and exists for one of two purposes. The first purpose is to set up the back and forth repartee between the two stars. And no, I don’t know their names. Like I said, these details are unimportant. The second reason is to facilitate action. There is an epic chase scene that tears across the screen, stops for a few minutes in an attempt to establish some semblance of story, and then explodes into another fucking chase scene.

This is how movies should be made. We want witty banter, followed by extensive, excessive action. I want to see everything you can possibly blow up, blow up. They blow up a mansion for god’s sake.

There is not a second or a thought wasted on moralizing here. These are the good guys, these are the bad guys, and the good guys go get the bad guys. At one point they drive a bright yellow Humvee through a Cuban shantytown. And I don’t mean through the meager, pothole infested streets of a Cuban shantytown. I mean they drive through the actual shanties themselves. Instead of worrying about killing the innocent, impoverished occupants of these hovels, this wanton destruction and disregard for human life is justified simply by saying, “these are drug dealer’s homes,” and no one loses a moments sleep about it.

What is more excessive and conceited than cocky American citizens driving a Hummer, a bright yellow Hummer, that most bloated American conveyance, that also happens to be a military instrument, down a hillside in Cuba, a country in the grip of extreme poverty, due largely to American actions, just wrecking every single thing they touch? That’s ‘Merica right there. Woo. Bad Boys 2 is the embodiment of American excess. Next time you wonder why someone from another country might not be so stoked on the American way of life, watch Bad Boys 2. Oh, and Guantanamo Bay, instead of being a bastion of torture and confinement, ends up being the symbol of freedom that ultimately saves them in the end.

This is the rich man’s Tango & Cash. There is not subtlety here. This is start to finish, one hundred percent, over the top action. I know I’m often critical of the new wave action movies, and over the years many people have questioned my devout loyalty to Bad Boys 2. Sure, it certainly has elements that I traditionally despise. Too much CGI, excessive slow motion, and an absurd number of unnecessarily quick jumps and edits, are chief among these complaints. However, this movie rises to such incredible heights that it transcends what should, by all rights, be a caricature of an action movie, and creates something that very nearly escapes the classification of genre as a whole.

Similarly to Spy Kids, everyone I tell how awesome Bad Boys 2 is, initially laughs at me. I understand that stance. That was my first reaction. But you know what, I’m not too proud to admit I was dead fucking wrong. People can laugh all they want, until they are exposed to the full glory of Bad Boys 2, which just happens to be the only reason I don’t want to kick Michael Bay’s ass. (Though he is treading on thin ice lately.)

Give it a chance. Watch it with a room full of people, no lights, and a liberal amount of alcohol. You won’t be disappointed.

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