In this summer of sequels, I suspect none will be as distasteful and off-putting as “Bad Boys II,” an utterly crass, clueless exercise in noise just for noise’s sake.
Those who felt “Bad Boys” (1995) was mediocre at best may be disappointed to learn the followup is not any better; it is merely longer and louder. Martin Lawrence’s character, narcotics agent Marcus Burnett, continues to fear everything and to seek respite from his devil-may-care partner. The partner, Mike Lowrey (Will Smith), continues to get them into gunfights on a regular basis. If you have ever seen Lawrence or Smith at work before, then you can tell already they are miscast: Smith should be the quiet family man, and Lawrence should be the unstable playboy. But I suppose the sequel is too late to fix that kind of problem.
This time around, Marcus and Mike are trying to stop a huge shipment of Ecstasy from making it into Miami. Complicating matters is the discovery that Marcus’ sister, Sydney (Gabrielle Union), as an agent for the DEA, is involved in the bust, too. See, Marcus is overprotective of her, and Mike’s secretly dating her. So you see the potential for comedy.
Ah, comedy. Remember comedy? I love comedy. Nothing better than some good ol’ comedy. This movie has almost no comedy. Oh, it has broad, “Three’s Company”-style misunderstandings, and a bit where Marcus, posing as a rat exterminator, is deathly afraid of rats, which is funny for a few seconds and then continues for another 200. But mostly, there is just shooting and yelling and cursing.
Perhaps most appalling about this dim-witted, low-brow mess is its length: 2 1/2 hours. Many films manage to tell their stories in under two hours, even when those stories are wide in scope and touch on important themes. “Bad Boys II” is about two cops and a standard drug bust. I seem to recall several instances where “Miami Vice” told this story in less than an hour, with commercials.
The longer the film wears on, the more irritating it is, because we see how little regard it has for its audience. If you watch this movie, you will have to see two rats having sex. You will also have to witness dead bodies being thrown out of the back of a speeding vehicle, then being run over by the cars in pursuit. You will have to see Will Smith reach into a cadaver and pull out a kidney. You will have to see one insane car chase after another, and one loud gunfight after another. There are so many gunfights, in fact, that Marcus even comments on it at one point — and when Martin Lawrence is the lone voice of reason in your film, then buddy, you’re in trouble.
The director is Michael Bay (“Pearl Harbor,” “Armageddon”), who films people getting killed as if he loves watching them die. He uses several nifty camera tricks throughout the film, though to what end I can’t imagine. People who are entertained by such vapid, sophomoric bombast aren’t liable to be impressed by technical proficiency. This is an excessively violent, infuriatingly stupid film with no shame, and with no purpose.
D- (2 hrs., 30 min.; )
In 2012, I reconsidered this movie for my Re-Views column at Film.com.