For a while, I really thought that Bad Boys II was a lot more enjoyable than its predecessor. But then it started to drag on and on and I found myself losing interest and finding the whole experience painful. I think it was around the point when the two lead characters, Marcus and Mike (Martin Lawrence and Will Smith), found themselves threatening and ridiculing a teenage boy. It was mean-spirited and added nothing to the plot, and while I found it funny on one level, I found it cruel and pointless on another.
Picking up years after the first Bad Boys, the film following the two “lovable” police officers as they attempt to stop another nefarious plot by some drug dealer who is smuggling million and millions of dollars worth of ecstasy into the United States of America. One reason I initially liked Bad Boys II was because of the way that the crime they’re trying to stop actually seemed to matter, unlike how it was forgotten about in the first film.
There are, however, a couple of subplots that wind up taking up a bit too much time. The first of which involves Marcus hiding a secret from Mike: He no longer wants to be partners with the man he has worked with for over a decade. Meanwhile, Mike has his own secret: He is dating Marcus’ sister, Syd (Gabrielle Union), an undercover officer working with the DEA, and is also attempting to bring down the ecstasy dealer. The three team up despite these secrets, which leads to the same awkward and terrible sitcom drama/comedy the filled portions of Bad Boys.
The majority of the film is here just to set up forgettable action scenes. I’m writing this review a few days after I saw Bad Boys II, and I’m struggling to remember much of anything that happened. It’s like the vast majority of the movie is filler. Action scenes lead into filler which leads into further action scenes. Oh, and we get another generic plot because that seems like the theme that the filmmakers are going for with this series. Why craft an original plot when — Boom! Explosion!
It’s all very violent and flashy and looks good, but there isn’t an ounce of humanity to the majority of the proceedings and I found myself caring less and less as it went along. There’s only so long that this type of filmmaking can sustain itself, and that time is generally around 90 minutes. At over 140 minutes long, Bad Boys II is far too lengthy and contains far too much mediocrity to be worth seeing. If you fall asleep while watching it, I wouldn’t be surprised. Constant action scenes is as dull as having none.
A lot of Bad Boys was successful because of the chemistry given by Martin Lawrence and Will Smith. They had an energy that isn’t often matched in the movies, and the dialogue between them was generally quite entertaining and funny. The parts of the film that worked did so in large part because of them. This time around, something has changed. Maybe it’s because they’re no longer ad-libbing, or perhaps the years and movie success has changed them, but the energy is gone and the chemistry is largely non-existent. Perhaps the latter part was intentional — they are supposed to be drifting apart, after all — but it isn’t a good choice if it was on purpose.
When Bad Boys II succeeds, which isn’t often, it’s because of the highly stylized style with which Michael Bay infuses it. Like the first film, this is a good looking movie, and while the editing is very quick-paced, you can usually tell what’s going on. And while cinematographer Howard Atherton has been replaced by Amir Mokri, the visual style and flair for aesthetics is something that carried over.
Bad Boys II wants to be funny. It is very often not. There are so many jokes that are misfired. They are mean and sometimes filthy. There are also many that approach new levels of stupidity. Yes, there are some successes, but without the energy and chemistry of the leads, there aren’t a lot of them. I found myself cringing and hating myself for watching this movie. I constantly wondered who would like this and why the filmmakers would think it would be widely adored.
The odd thing is that these moments aren’t too frequent, but they pop up just enough to make that type of thinking continuous throughout the film. You watch it and basically fall into a stupor in which you think “Explosion! Stupid Joke! Another Explosion!” rinse and repeat. The film as a whole isn’t terrible — this isn’t another Michael Bay disaster like Peal Harbor — but it comes dangerously close at times. There’s just nothing more to it than ugliness and explosions.
Bad Boys II is a worse movie than its predecessor, which relied heavily on the chemistry and energy of its two leads, Martin Lawrence and Will Smith. The two, both having lots of success since Bad Boys‘ release, just aren’t as good here. The writing is worse, the energy is absent, and there’s a distinct lack of chemistry between them. Add in a seemingly never ending series of action scenes and filler, and a tone that is often incredibly vicious, and you’ve got a 147-minute unmemorable action movie that wears thin after an hour and a half.