Bad Boys II (18)
Action thrillers rarely come any better than this all-shootin’, car-wreckin’, fast-talkin’, pulse-poundin’ sequel that reunites Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as two American cops with a penchant for wanton destruction.
Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett (Smith and Lawrence) are the gun-toting narcotics detectives ordered to stem the flow of Ecstasy into Miami. Their quarry turns out to be a drug lord with his own private army and a deadpan way of dealing with rivals: he chops them into small pieces and hands them back to their horrified compadres in a blood-soaked bin.
So it is that Mike and Marcus are once again thrown headfirst into the fray. Their investigation brings them nose-to-nose with the various players in an underground drug war, while their own relationship takes a battering as it emerges that Marcus’s gorgeous sister (who is secretly seeing Mike) is an undercover DEA agent. Throw in the fact that Marcus has applied for a transfer and it all becomes a tad messy.
Given the casting of Smith and Lawrence the one-liners flow freely. An opening sequence sees them cockily taking on legions of the Ku Klux Klan and slowly realising that their back-up may not be en-route after all. Cue gratuitous gunplay, a morgue-ful of dead rednecks and much bullet-strewn hilarity.
Then there’s the gruesome slice of black humour as they fish around inside dead bodies to come up with the evidence – tablets – they need. It revels in the ‘Urgh!’ factor. And it is extremely funny.
Throw in the choice of Michael Bay as director (he of The Rock, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor) and the degree of violence and eye-popping stuntwork is ratcheted up several notches. Plus he does it for real; there’s not a lot of CGI trickery here.
For one thing, Bad Boys II boasts arguably the finest car chase since John Frankenheimer’s Ronin reinvented destruction for the latter part of the 20th century. There’s also a bone-crunching OTT scrap on a train.
A combination of first-class stunts and action – the bad boys pursue an array of villains through the streets, dodging cars, kicking ass and going through an armoury of ammunition – makes the much-vaunted sequence in The Matrix Reloaded look like a video game, while a cacophonous shoot-out in a drug den is handled with all the panache of an abattoir.
Then there is the soundtrack – a thunderous array of gunshots, car crashes and myriad bangs and explosions –, which also forms an obligatory part of a Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer collaboration.
In a summer of sequels Bad Boys II is refreshing because, like in the commercial, it does exactly what it promises on the tin. No more, no less. And given that it lacks the pretentiousness of The Matrix, it’s a great deal more fun and accessible. No hidden messages here; just action, action, action, action…
Star rating: ****