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BAD BOYS 2, 2003
Movie Reviews!

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BAD BOYS 2,   MOVIE POSTERBAD BOYS 2, 2003
Movie Reviews

Directed by Michael Bay
Starring; Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jordi Mollà, Gabrielle Union, Peter Stormare, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Shannon
Review by Keith Huckfield


SYNOPSIS:

Two loose-cannon narcotics cops investigate the flow of Ecstacy into Florida.

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REVIEW:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Michael Bay will never be welcomed with open arms into the annals of great film directors. Despite providing entertaining action fare for more than ten years, mention his name as one of your favourite directors and you will more likely be met with derision than delight.

Often better known as Jerry Bruckheimer's right-hand man, as in the case of Bad Boys 2, his films are often greeted with lukewarm praise from critics and dismissed as flashy violence-sploitation popcorn fodder. This to a large extent is true, most of his films do rely more heavily on highly choreographed action scenes and white knuckle car chases than great scripting, and he does have a tendency to find a technique he likes and re-use it ad nauseum. However this does not necessarily mean his films should be so easily dismissed. The blockbuster has long been the safe choice of the film industry, a game played between friends that no-one wants to lose. This often results in films that play it safe and take no risks; films that are easily bankable but not necessarily any good. This is a producers dream, though it can lead to a director being forced to walk a tightrope of cliché and mediocre plotting and Michael Bay's films are no exceptions. On the whole his films have been average at best, though, through this, he has found his niche in the cinematic hierarchy. Michael Bay has become a master of the art of the blockbuster, the auteur of the average, and he plays his part with glee and excitement that can be matched by few other directors. No film is more demonstrative of Bay's love of making things explode than Bad Boys 2.

Bad Boys 2 is a classic of its genre, and a fine example of what Michael Bay does best; no-holds barred, heart-pounding action. Having done away with the rather clumsy mistaken identity plot device of the first film, the sequel is a much more straightforward thrill ride. The plot finds our heroes in counselling following the aftermath of these self-same events and heading up a task force investigating the flow of ecstasy into Miami starting, in typical Michael Bay fashion, with an action sequence involving the busting up of a white supremacist rally with typical style. From here its all go as Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, returning as Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, set their sights on a Cuban drug kingpin.

While the film is nothing revolutionary, and is exceptionally hammy in places, it is a masterwork of style over substance; a film that delivers everything it has with gusto. Some may say Bay uses a little too much gusto, but in this case excess is a success and the over-egged nature of the action shores up the overblown plot to create a likeable movie; a movie that you want to watch from beginning to end and then watch again. This, to me, is a rare quality in films; while some films are considered classics, people who like them may only watch them once or twice over any great length of time. With Bad Boys 2 and films like it, you have a film that guarantees an escape from the tedium of reality; a window into a cartoon world filled with humour and action in spades.

One of the reasons for the films re-watchability is its simple plot; instead of relying on big reveals or third act rug-pulling, the film plays out as expected. Because of this the audience do not spend the entire of the movie trying to guess the end, simply hoping the good guys will win. Sometimes this is all that is required, while excellent plotting and twisting narratives will always be more attractive to film fans everywhere, Bad Boys 2 provides a welcome break from such films, an amusement park in a world full of council estates and grim reality.

The dynamic between Smith and Lawrence is also electric and the one aspect of the plot that could be said to really sell the Bad Boys films. Their cop partner/bromance concept is not original in itself, it is the characters and the actors portrayal that makes them likeable. The bastard child of a thousand clichés, it is the combination not the components that is so joyously enduring. The love hate relationship created between the pair provides the fuel that keeps the film going and the performances by Smith and Lawrence flesh them out sufficiently to keep the audience watching.

The cinematography is balletic in places; Bay being no stranger to flying his camera around his actors and employing long, uncut tracking shots. He uses his love of moving camera to full artful effect in several instances in Bad Boys 2; in one scene where Lowrey and Burnett are in a stand off with some Haitian hijackers, the camera spins around and around the actors, tracking through a wall to keep the action fluid and take in the entire scene in one fell swoop. This also adds to the effect of the sudden action about to take place, a moment of sheer artful reflection on the scene before the chaos that ensues.

OK, so Bay's approach is often unsubtle at best, and, as mentioned, he does not exactly push the boundaries of cinema, but his work is still enjoyable. Critics dismissed the film as 'orgiastic violence' and 'director overload', however I would say that there is nothing wrong with that. Films like this provide a valuable service; allowing the audience to cut loose and switch off their brains and just enjoy. Films don't always have to be fine art, they can simply be a comic book; they don't always have to have an underlying message that can or will change your life, they can simply be entertainment for entertainments sake. Bad Boys 2 is this in spades, superior to the original even if its thunder is stolen by being a very similar film; the film is an action film to the core and one of the best examples of Michael Bay's work. If you don't like that kind of film, then fair enough, but there is definitely something to be said for a film where the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad and people don't moralise over every single decision. If judged against Oscar winning films such as American Beauty or Titanic, Bad Boys 2 will appear mediocre, but, if set aside as a work of balletic excess, it is a classic and too endearing to be dismissed.

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