It isn't the weapon but the formula that's lethal in "Blue Streak," a pooped, poorly executed buddy-cop comedy with more cliches than expletives. Touted as a celebration of action movies, this sucker plays more like an epitaph for the worn-out marriage of male bonding, butt-kicking and car chases.
Martin Lawrence hops behind the wheel of this sputtering vehicle ready to crack wise and lay rubber. But this heap is running on "Beverly Hills Cop" retreads, tires so bald they haven't got another "48 Hrs." It's even long past time to paint them white, fill them with pansies and plunk them down in some yahoo's front yard.
The script, by Michael Berry, Jim Blumenthal and Steve Carpenter, begins with a promising prologue: A crisply paced jewelry heist is underway. Accomplished thief Miles Logan (Lawrence) has a horse-choking diamond in hand when his ruthless partner (Peter Greene) turns double-crosser. Shots are exchanged, the LAPD arrives, and Miles, who escapes to a nearby construction site, is seconds from being discovered and arrested as he stashes the gem in an air duct.
The story resumes at a slower pace, with Miles's release from prison and his wacky attempts to recoup his diamond. To his dismay, the air duct is part of the ventilation system of the Los Angeles Police Department's new headquarters.
To gain access, Miles poses as an ace detective newly transferred to the downtown burglary division. Naturally they're shorthanded, so the captain wastes no time sending Miles and his rookie partner (Luke Wilson) on assignment.
Relying on his skills as a thief, Miles readily cracks cases that stump his colleagues, especially his conservative young partner, who is suitably wowed by Miles's hot-dogging. Never mind that this turn of events is as predictable as scattering, screaming pedestrians in high-speed chase scenes. The movie is not entirely without laughs but they're just not gut-busters. There are not even enough explosions to satisfy the devotees of blast-splattering, bullet-spraying action.
Director Les Mayfield doesn't bring any fresh stylistic flourishes to the caper, which doesn't even have a romantic subplot and, thus, a babe to add visual interest.
Though Lawrence has a suitable partner in Wilson and a genial sidekick in Dave Chappelle, the movie was designed for him, and the affable star is expected to drive this jalopy home. Alas, he just doesn't have the juice to recharge its corroded battery.
Blue Streak (96 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG-13 for profanity and violence.
CAPTION: Martin Lawrence as the faux police detective in "Blue Streak," a movie you've already seen.