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Bad Boys 2

They ride together. They die together. They're bad boys for life. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back as vice cops ready to topple yet another drug kingpin, eight years after they first hooked up to keep the sun-baked streets of Miami safe.


''Same old shit, different day,'' Smith's Mike Lowrey groans to Lawrence's Marcus Burnett. Damn right. Nothing's changed since 1995's Bad Boys made movie stars out of then-TV staples Smith and Lawrence. Smooth-as-silk Lowrey's still struggling to prove he's more than a rich kid playing narcotics cop. Worrywart Burnett continues to fret about his on-the-job safety. He's also not getting any at home from wife Theresa (Theresa Randle)--this time because he's recovering from being shot in the ass by his own partner, which doesn't further goodwill between them. The pair still squabbles like an old married couple, even when there's a drug lord to take down. Their quarry: Johnny Tapia (Jordi Mollà), who's flooding Miami with deadly designer ecstasy smuggled into the States via coffins--er, rather, via the corpses inside. Making matters worse, Tapia's on the outs with the Russian mob and Haitian gangbangers want his ill-gotten gains. Throw hotheads Lowrey and Burnett into the mix, and Miami's a veritable drug war zone. Things get personal when Burnett's younger sister, DEA agent Syd (Gabrielle Union), goes undercover to first beguile and then bust Tapia. Of course, Lowrey's in love with Syd and fears for her life. Screenwriters Ron Shelton and Jerry Stahl aren't content with merely banging out a souped-up episode of Miami Vice on a budget at least twice the $65.8 million that the first Bad Boys earned at the box office, so they take the partners out of their jurisdiction for a showdown in Cuba that makes the Bay of Pigs invasion look like a petty diplomatic dispute. Like the first film, this is all executed in the name of a good chuckle. But it's hard to sustain the belly laughs if you can't stomach a relentless body count rivaling that of the U.S.-Vietnam conflict.


Suffer from migraines? Then steer clear of these bellowing bad boys, who must yell with all their might so they can be heard over the orchestrated mayhem. The screaming starts the second the bullets fly, the cars crash and the mansions explode, but even when there's a break in the action they keep shouting, seeming to thrive on the tension between them. At first, it's vaguely amusing to listen to Lowrey taunting Burnett over his unfortunate rear-view flesh wound, but five minutes later, their bickering becomes grating white noise that drowns out the humor from every line they try to bark in jest. After 2-1/2 hours--yes, 2-1/2 hours!--you're hoping either cop chokes on a mouthful of ecstasy to prevent a third Bad Boys. So it comes as a welcome relief when, on the rare occasion, they lower their voices to work in unison. This is when they score their few laughs as a team. It's genuinely hysterical when they lay down the rules about dating Burnett's teenage daughter to a fearful high schooler. But the hollering isn't confined to Smith and Lawrence. A criminally wasted Joe Pantoliano, back as Capt. Howard, storms through every encounter he has with his two subordinates. Spanish actor Mollà is practically incoherent as the paranoid Cuban drug baron with the ego the size of Havana. Thankfully, Union and Randle realize louder isn't necessarily better; unfortunately, these gals never get to strut their funky stuff. Randle returns merely to provide Lawrence with domestic comfort. Union, who admirably fought alongside Jet Li and DMX in Cradle 2 the Grave, rarely gets to swing a punch in Bad Boys II. Lawrence dismisses Union's DEA agent as ''a honey pot,'' a sexy young thing used just to tempt a drug lord. Too bad she isn't given a chance to prove him wrong--her good girl looks like she could whup any bad boy's butt. Especially one inflicted with a bullet wound.


Perhaps Pearl Harbor taught Michael Bay a valuable lesson about his limitations as a director. Restaging the attack on the U.S.S. Arizona left us in shock and awe, but we yawned at his risible attempt to create a steamy love triangle amid the tragedy. So Bay, along with producer and longtime patron Jerry Bruckheimer, have returned to destroying everything in sight without any concern for the cost of human life--they're the true bad boys of American cinema. Spending a fortune to wreak havoc on Miami, Bay coolly and calmly decimates a multimillion-dollar mansion, pits small armies against each other, and smashes 22 cars and a boat during a chase on the scenic MacArthur Causeway. (But what a fast and furious chase it is--conventional by The Matrix Reloaded and T3 standards, but Bay truly puts you in the passenger's seat. You can't help by duck when one car after another careens your way.) Bay also ups the violence tenfold from the first film. He's eager to dwell on people being shot in the head at close range or mowed down during the course of a chase. During one Matrix-inspired moment, Bay gleefully follows the path of a bullet as it's fired from Lowrey's gun, shatters a bottle, hits Burnett's backside and splatters its target. The first film was never this brutal, and that's problematic for parents expecting their kids to see the Will Smith of Men in Black. This is Dirty Willy. Yet, the bloodshed is oddly preferable to Bay's ham-fisted stab at humor, which extends to amorous rats and dead women's breast implants. He certainly gets great kicks out of abusing the dearly departed, as corpses are not merely disturbed but driven over, decapitated and blown to smithereens. All in all, Bad Boys II is about excess--maybe it's Bay's way of compensating for the sequel's belated arrival. Only he doesn't realize throwing one corpse after another at us doesn't make us giggle as much as gag, perhaps...

Bottom Line

Whatcha gonna do? This is the bloodiest, loudest and longest shootout of the summer--so avoid the streets of Miami if you have no appetite for destruction. If this is the best Smith and Lawrence can cook up after an eight-year absence, then these bad boys deserve a good spanking at the box office.