With the huge success of Bad Boys (1995) and Hollywood’s penchant for making sequels, it was pretty much inevitable that Bad Boys II would show up sooner or later. With producer Jerry Bruckheimer again on board, Michael Bay back at the helm, and Will Smith and Martin Lawrence teaming up on-screen, this was definitely a must-see on my list this summer. But could it continue the first film’s success, or was this a cash cow that should have been put to pasture?
Smith again outshines Lawrence in Bad Boys II, just as he did in the first film. After his slew of summer blockbusters (Independence Day (1996), Men in Black (1997) & Men in Black II (2002)), he’s already had his flop (Wild Wild West (1999)), so the pressure’s off for him to succeed again, and it seems to have put him much more at ease.
Martin Lawrence, not the best of actors, again reaps the benefits of his pairing with Smith, and seems to strive to do better because of it. Working alone, he doesn’t seem to be able to carry a movie well, but his buddy cop roles, like his role in Bad Boys II, definitely help bring out a better side of his acting.
The newcomers to the series vary in their ability to keep up with Smith and Lawrence. Gabrielle Union, who I haven’t seen since Bring It On (2000), does a good job here, and seems to easily fit in as part of the Bad Boys II family.
Jordi Molla is sufficiently evil, but seems to be just a cookie cutter villain, with no real standout qualities to differentiate him from any other bad guy. He basically just goes through the motions, and you get the feeling he’s more jealous of the camaraderie between the cops than he is upset at anything else.
The story behind Bad Boys II is similar in many ways to the first. They’ve got the evil drug dealer, the pretty girl caught in the middle, a couple of wild car chases and it all comes to an explosive climax. They also have the wrinkle between the two friends (in the first film, it was that the two of them had to switch places; in this one, Mike’s dating Marcus’ sister). This wrinkle lead to many more comedic situations in the first film. This time around, it’s more the reason why they are so intent on helping.
Michael Bay seems to have recognized that the banter between Lawrence and Smith is a big reason why the first movie was such a success, and continues that banter throughout this film. One scene comes to mind immediately that really showcases this: when Marcus’ other daughter’s date shows up, Mike and Marcus really scare the crap out of him before he takes Marcus’ daughter out. The two of them are so comfortable with each other the scene comes off as totally impromptu, and really adds to their friendship on-screen.
The action sequences in Bad Boys II seem to try to outdo the action from the first film…and easily succeed. You can almost see the money it cost to make this film flying past the windows of the cars as they zoom by on-screen. The car chases are particularly spectacular, and rival the car chase sequences from The Rock (1996) as some of the best seen on-screen in a long time.
Whether it’s cars (or even dead bodies) flying at the heroes, or the complete destruction of a small village worth of buildings, Michael Bay has a knack for keeping the audience focused on the characters even when it would be so easy to lose them in the midst of all the action. He really seems to be able to put the viewer directly into the action, and then keeps adding to what he’s throwing at you and the characters.
So, is Bad Boys II worth it? Well, have you seen the first film and were dying for a sequel? Did you want that sequel to be bigger in scope, and filled with so much action it’s about to burst? If so, then you won’t want to miss Bad Boys II on the big screen.