a critiQal film review National Security (2003)

Plot: While searching for his partner's killer, Hank (Zahn) runs into Earl (Lawrence), a police academy dropout, and ends up in jail because of it - thanks to Earl's accusation of police brutality. After doing his time, Hank tracks the killer to a warehouse, where Earl happens to be a security guard. Now, this unlikely duo must team up to catch the killer...if they don't kill each other first.

490 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 27s)
  • ...while this may be the best Lawrence & Zahn can do, it's still just another Lethal Weapon wannabe.

The tag line for National Security is: It’s a “buddy movie without the buddies.” Taking a cue from the hugely successful Lethal Weapon (1987) and it’s sequels, we’ve been seeing lots of buddy movies these days (Bad Boys (1995), Rush Hour (1998), Shanghai Noon, I Spy (2002), etc.). Is this just another imitator, or will it be as good as Bad Boys (1995) or Rush Hour (1998)?

The characters of National Security are ill-matched, usually a good thing for buddy movies (Jackie Chan and either Chris Tucker or Owen Wilson, etc.). Unfortunately, their acting styles are ill-matched here as well, and Zahn and Lawrence tend to clash, rather then bond.

Martin Lawrence (whose career was boosted by co-starring with Will Smith in Bad Boys (1995)), becomes his usual somewhat annoying self for this film, and just begins to grate on your nerves by about halfway through.

Zahn, the straight man of the duo, tends to get flustered when upset, and fails as Lawrence’s sounding board. They do get somewhat of a camaraderie going near the end of the film, but by then it’s too little, too late.

The plot is basically a rehash of any other buddy cop movie, mostly. In National Security, there’s a bad guy, one of the good guys has a personal reason to get him, and they play off each other as the movie progresses. The only twist is that the two “buddies” of this movie don’t really like each other. It’s more like the Lethal Weapon (1987) than Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), in other words. The dialogue isn’t as snappy as some of the better buddy cop movies have been coming up with, and makes the movie drag a bit at times.

The special effects in National Security mostly involve the gun battles and car sequences. The car sequences involved a few over the top stunts, but came out decent enough. There were a few instances where the car lands, and it’s seemingly impossible for it to keep going after, but it does.

The gun battles were also a little over the top, but decent enough also. Too many bullets, of course, as in most of the generic buddy cop films, and they alternate from being incredibly lousy shots to being the best sharpshooter the world has ever seen, but that’s all expected in buddy cop films.

With all the buddy cop films coming out in recent years, any new tries into the field need to have a little something extra, either great camaraderie between the two heroes, a great villain, extra spectacular action sequences, or preferably, a combination of the three.

Unfortunately for National Security, it’s got none of the above. Could they have made this a better buddy cop movie? You bet. Could they have done it with Zahn and Lawrence? Probably not. For this duo, National Security is as good as it gets.

Sadly, even thought this represents the best of the Zahn/Lawrence duo, National Security still isn’t worth the rental.

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