a critiQal film review Bad Boys (1995)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: One hundred million dollars worth of confiscated heroin has just been jacked from police custody. Once the career bust of Detectives Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence), the missing drugs now threaten to shut down the narcotics division of the Miami Police Department. Things get more complicated when Lowrey and Burnett have to switch places to convince a witness (Leoni) to cooperate.

549 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 44s)
  • ...Smith and Lawrence team up to give the buddy cop movie a much needed face lift - and audiences will enjoy every moment of this new partnership.

Since our The Terminator (1984) marathon was so entertaining a couple of weeks ago, I was in the mood for another movie marathon this holiday weekend – and immediately thought of Bad Boys. Since it’s been years since we saw Bad Boys, would it stand up to what our memories of it were? Or would we be disappointed these many years later?

Will Smith has been a goldmine at the summer box office. Whether he’s fighting off aliens (Independence Day (1996)) or just playing a cop, he’s been able to make people flock to the theaters to see him. And during the height of his popularity, he starred in Bad Boys.

Just like he was able to make an interstellar attack seem down-to-earth, he makes his wild n’ crazy cop seem to jump off the screen. Sure, his methods are extreme, but this rich boy does his job – and things just happen to blow up. Rather than going the easy route and imitating, say, Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon (1987), he makes the character all his own – and the viewer will enjoy every minute of it.

Martin Lawrence, on the other hand, doesn’t have quite the same track record as his co-star. While he’s tried since to repeat the camaraderie easily evident in his scenes with Will Smith in other films (namely, National Security (2003)), he hasn’t been able to really recapture this high point of his career (other than to return to the same character in Bad Boys II (2003)). He’s able to showcase a family man struggling with the disruptions his job brings to his home life and the struggles of his dangerous job with humor, making the audience laugh at – and with – him.

The on-screen duo of Smith and Lawrence are really what makes Bad Boys so much fun to watch. Sure, Tea Leoni contributes more than she ever has (before or since) as a reluctant witness, Joe Pantoliano is fun as their much-stressed boss, and Tcheky Karyo plays a thug-like criminal with ruthless efficiency. But it’s Smith and Lawrence who really make the movie worth watching. After all, half the fun of the movie is listening to the two of them banter back and forth – both in anger AND in jest.

That’s not to say the action isn’t there – it is. Since this is a Michael Bay picture (he who went on to direct Transformers (2007)), the action flies at the viewer in a fast and furious pace. Unlike later films where the action threatens to overwhelm the story, the action in Bad Boys, while intense, can’t come close to overwhelming Smith and Lawrence’s great on-screen duo.

If you haven’t seen Bad Boys, then you probably aren’t an action buff. Even if you like your comedy better than your action, this tale – which focuses almost as much on Lawrence’s troubled home life as it does on the narcotics case – should still be on your list.

After Lethal Weapon (1987), I thought for sure there wasn’t going to be another buddy cop movie I could see that would come off as anything but an imitator. Thankfully, despite some similarities, Smith and Lawrence make these characters totally their own, and help give the buddy cop movie a much needed face lift along the way.

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