Monday, 16 March 2009

DVD Review - Bad Boys

The Story

Will Smith plays a cool, smart, rich kid who’s adored by women everywhere (well, when doesn’t he? Baggar Vance and Ali excepted … to an extent), a cop whose colleagues don’t feel his heart is in the job, while Martin Lawrence plays his partner, a somewhat less cool and rich family guy with a wife and 3 kids. He is no less smart but takes a rather more pragmatic approach to his work, and has less charisma… well, he has no charisma at all. Not only that, but his job frequently keeps him away from home, which puts quite a strain on his marriage.

Quite how they have stayed as partners, or why Lawrence’s character actually likes Smith is beyond me and obviously the scriptwriters thought it better to ignore the problem rather than try to offer a solution.

After a rather silly but entertaining enough opening sequence interposed with the credits, the film starts very promisingly with an extremely intricately planned and ambitious crime – the theft of confiscated heroin from the police station itself! The detail of the operation is well thought out and the special effects are superb. The special effects remain brilliant throughout the film. Sadly, the plot doesn’t live up to its early promise.

Connected with the theft of the heroin is a murder, witnessed by the friend of Smith’s hooker-friend (and occasionally business partner, it would seem), played by Tea Leonne. She contacts the police and will only speak to Smith. Lawrence has to pretend to by Smith who is otherwise engaged with a bad guy… and so it goes on.

The plot moves along at a quick pace, but not quick enough for the many plot holes, of varying degrees of ludicrousness, to be ignored. If the film had been more biased to the comedy element rather than thriller, it would have been forgivable. But as it has pretensions of being a thriller with comedy aspects, it just doesn’t work.

The supposedly ruthless killers kidnap, leave, or don’t bother chasing the main characters when the profile built up of them would have you believe they’d kill any potential witnesses on the spot – which they do to the unimportant characters. They also suffer from the typical Hollywood “Bad Guy Unable To Shoot Hero From Point Blank Rage” syndrome, and when pointing a gun straight at one of the heroes and finding themselves looking down the barrel of a gun themselves, instead of shooting take time out to say, “oh dear oh deary me”, or words to the effect, while letting themselves get shot. All in all, the action sequences are quite exciting in a way, but there is no tension as you know the writers aren’t actually going to dare to do anything original or inventive with them. Because of the high speed, one-liners, and special effects, they’re entertaining enough in themselves. At least, they are on the first watching…

Speaking of one-liners, the comedy element consists of them and little else. The great saving grace of the film is that some of these are really funny. There are occasionally glimpses of other forms of humour, which are usually pretty funny, but there’s not a great deal of originality to it.

Also, it’s hard to believe that such reckless, destructive actions by the police would be ignored / forgiven so quickly and easily as they are here. The film rather glorifies violence and has an unpleasant feel because of it. It also gives the impression that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with prostitution, an idea I personally find repulsive – and I suspect I’m not the only one.

The Cast

Will Smith does pretty well playing himself… again… If he were to ever convincingly play a poor, un-cool, dumb street urchin, maybe I’d believe he was a great actor. As it is he’s a bit typecast and rather a victim of his own success and hype. Téa Leoni struggles to do much with her character, which is rather underdeveloped. She delivers some wry one-liners well enough, but otherwise has little to do except be scared, stupid, or cynical by turns, while wearing some truly ridiculous outfits. Saverio Guerra (Bob In Becker) plays a similar character here and does pretty well. Most of the other characters are either flat, illogical, or barely part of the film. Tchéky Karyob enjoys himself as the main villain, but his character also could have been a lot better.

Martin Lawrence gives by far the best performance of the film. Some of the scenes that have him bumbling over words trying to explain an unlikely situation to his wife are hysterical. He’s your typical nice guy hero, but there’s often a lot more to him than meets the eye. He has probably the only fully developed character in the whole film to play, and does it very well.

I also wonder how racist it would have been considered if the roles had been reversed – black cops are the good guys, all the villains are white, and the white police chief has little brains and gets absolutely no respect from Smith and Lawrence. He also can’t play basketball, but I suppose that is at least realistic… If the good guys were white and the black guys bad, I suspect there would have been an uproar. It didn’t really bother me in itself, just the fact that it would almost definitely have been seen as racist if it were the other way around.

And the “F” word makes far too many appearances – totally unnecessarily.

Thus endeth my ranting. :-O

Overall

This is either a reasonably good film or a rather bad film, depending on your mood and what you look for in a film. If you like fast action, car chases, explosions, and fairly attractive women wearing ridiculous but nevertheless revealing clothing, this is for you. If you want intelligence, plot and character consistency, fully developed characters etc, then look elsewhere. I’ve given it 3 stars as it does have redeeming features, though it very nearly didn’t raise above 3. But I can’t recommend it as I don’t want to ever see it again. Well in fact the film would only get 2 stars, but this DVD version actually has some decent extras, including a documentary on the making of the film and some music videos.

Actually there is another group of people who will probably like the movie and, because of the music videos, will like the DVD even more – Will Smith fans. They will also lap up the scene where he’s running along with an open shirt (which for no apparent reason he seems to be trying to take off all the time), shot in slow motion a la Baywatch. (Which, I’d like to point out, I’ve only ever seen a total of five minutes of – but enough to know the style of photography!)… Then again, if you like Will Smith you’ve probably got this already…

1 comment:

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Ruth

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