What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say the name Michael Bay? If you have some working knowledge of cinema, or American culture in general, that word would be explosions. For Captain Pyrotechnics (my own invention), film seems to be an excuse to blow things up. He has made a career of directing and/or producing over-the-top shoot ’em ups where the plot is thin but the fire is thick. That is today’s film in a nutshell, Bad Boys (1995). I was pretty bored.
We meet the two main characters in Bad Boys, Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith), arguing in a Porsche in the strangely yellow bathed streets of Miami. Maybe Bay was trying to prepare our eyes from the erupting flames to come? Anyway, while Lowrey yells at Burnett for spilling food in his luxury sports car, would be jackers sneak up on them intent on stealing the vehicle. This is how we learn they are cops, and their constant, tiresome bickering will last for the next two hours. Sigh. But, enough of that, the McGuffin comes charging through in the form of a mysterious French criminal named Fouchet (Tchéky Karyo) and his gang. With a bunch of high tech gadgets, computer know-how, and thanks to some classically inept security guards manning the monitors, they break into the precinct and steal two pallet loads of drugs seized at a raid. As these narcotics were part of a bust performed by Burnett and Lowrey, they are called upon once more to figure out who it was that would go to such lengths to take them in this manner. Lowrey, being a bit of a ladies man, enlists the help of Maxine “Max” Logan (Karen Alexander), who is some kind of escort (this is never made explicit), to keep an eye out for anyone with newfound wealth and/or illegal substances. It is not long before she is invited to “party” with one of Fouchet’s men, and for whatever reason she brings along a friend, Julie Mott (Téa Leoni). After slipping away to use the facilities, she witnesses Fouchet arrive and murder both Logan and his associate, but manages to escape a similar fate by jumping several stories into a nearby swimming pool. Ugh. Because Logan had told Mott about Lowrey, Mott then turns to the detective for help. As it turns out, Lowrey is preoccupied with another aspect of the case, and Burnett is sent to bring her in instead, assuming his partner’s identity because she will only trust Lowrey. She also refuses to go into protective custody because she fears corruption amongst the police leading to Fouchet finding her anyway. Thus Burnett must carry on the charade by taking her to Lowrey’s apartment, and bafflingly keeps this information from his wife, Theresa (Theresa Randle). A series of unfunny scenes unfold from there with Lowrey being called in to watch over the Burnett family, and Burnett getting to stay in his partner’s swanky digs with a beautiful woman. Jealousy, mistaken identities, innuendo, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, our two intrepid cops are trying to discover Fouchet’s location, and I guess because the script calls for it, they take Mott with them wherever they go. Unsurprisingly, this eventually leads to Mott being captured by Fouchet, even though he had previously wanted to murder her. All of this, though, is just an excuse to get us to the big explosion at the end where Burnett and Lowrey track Fouchet down to a hangar where a major drug deal is about to occur. Bay gets his metric ton of explosives, Fouchet is shot to death, and everyone lives happily ever after. BOOM!
The plot of Bad Boys is as thin as a puddle, but it does offer an interesting lesson about marriage. Obviously, police detectives can lead dangerous lives, and sometimes that includes not telling their spouses everything about their jobs. The excuse that Burnett repeats ad nauseam to his wife is that he is doing undercover work. Then, when it becomes obvious he must stay with Mott, he tells his wife that he is leaving town for a conference in Cleveland. To be clear, I would never tell a cop how to do his or her job. However, since this is film and the writers can do whatever they want, I was annoyed by Burnett’s unnecessary lack of honesty, compounded by Lowrey’s assistance. My desire for openness is, of course, related to my Faith. Catholic marriage vows, as with most other such ceremonies, contain promises of being faithful to one another in all matters. This cover truthfulness. In the film, I understand why Burnett had to pretend to be Lowrey in order to get Mott to come with him. However, instead of carrying on with the canard, why not reveal who is actually who at the first opportunity? I believe this was supposed to be comedic relief. Yet, even the actors seemed bored with the situation. When Theresa travels to Lowrey’s apartment to confront Burnett when she discovers her husband is not in Cleveland as he said he would be, Mott reacts flatly when all is finally revealed. In other words, she had figured it out already! Thus, there was no reason for us to sit through most of this nonsense!
There is nothing remarkable about Bad Boys. There is a lot of violence, foul language, and scantily clad women. I also found it odd to hear Will Smith curse as much as he did. In short, it is flat, dull, and dated, and I see no reason for anyone to revisit it.
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