'Bad Boys II': Just Another Cop-Out Sequel

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 18, 2003

LET'S NOT get shocked or outraged to learn that "Bad Boys II" is just like "Bad Boys," only louder, longer and the stars get paid more. And let's not fall over backward with surprise when we discover this sequel amounts to a catwalk contest, a testosteronal preen-off between Will Smith (the buffed and goateed ladies man) and Martin Lawrence (the eye-rolling human bat).

What? You mean the story isn't all it could be? Pah! This is simply the episodic return of narcotics cops (and contentious pals) Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) who, when we first see them, are dressed in white robes and posing undercover with a gang of Ku Klux Klan types. It's a bust, which means Marcus is moments away from pulling off his hood and shocking the white right out of these rednecks.

Blam Blam Blam! go the guns (why do people miss so often in action films?) as Mike and Marcus trade shots with the bad guys and one-liners with each other. We're underway but nowhere near the end. This is a 21/2-hour movie loaded for bear with shootouts, car chases, helicopter chases and boat chases -- and then it starts all over again. More car chases, more shootouts and, naturally, more funny business.

One car chase involves Mike and Marcus chasing after a vehicle transport truck -- you know, those rigs that carry half a dozen cars on each level. The bad guys release those chained cars, one by one, so they come crashing on to the highway, causing all the appropriate mayhem. (Amazingly, no innocent bystanders are killed -- what luck.) And in another scene, our cops speed after a van carrying a pile of plastic-wrapped cadavers that also come crashing down, one at a time, in front of them.

Whether they're shooting gangsters (dabbling this time in the ecstasy drug trade), swerving from stiffs, relaxing by Marcus's cheaply bought pool or (stop me when you hear something original) cringing from their barking supervisor (Joe Pantoliano), our lovable stars play the Will-and-Martin game. Both actors are sitcom veterans, and Lawrence cut his teeth in standup clubs, so this is easy money for both. One gets annoyed with the other, the other gets annoyed back. And after they've had a few laughs, it's time for another vehicular pileup.

Work, work, work.

There's also time for a subplot, in which Mike gets romantic with Syd (Gabrielle Union), who just happens to be Marcus's sister. Mike doesn't want to tell Marcus about the liaison just yet. Meanwhile, Marcus wants to end his professional partnership with Mike and move on with his life. But he's not quite ready to tell Mike yet. Who says mindless summer sequels can't exude character tension?

This is why it takes 21/2 hours. But for the target audience, nothing's too long. What's not to like? And besides, as the song goes: "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?"

BAD BOYS II (R, 150 minutes) -- Contains considerable violence, gunplay and action, pervasive obscenity, sexuality and drug content. Area theaters.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company