Benjamin has been reviewing films for sixteen years and has seen more action movies than he should probably admit to!
What's the Big Deal?
Bad Boys is an action comedy film released in 1995 and was directed by Michael Bay, the first feature film he directed. The film stars Martin Lawrence and Will Smith as two mismatched cops on the trail of a murderous drug baron in Miami played by Tchéky Karyo. The film is typical of Bay's directorial style with a distinctive visual style, lots of fast editing, and a whole load of explosions. While the film received a mixed reception from critics, it was financially successful with global earnings around $141 million and led to a mini-revival in the fortunes of producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. It also led to a sequel - Bad Boys II - being released in 2003 and a third film finally getting released in early 2020.
What's It About?
Clean-living Miami detective Marcus Burnett and wannabe playboy Mike Lowrey are called in to investigate the apparent theft of $100 million of heroin recovered from the Mafia that was taken from a secure police vault. Internal Affairs suspects that the theft is an inside job and threatens to shut down the entire department unless the drugs can be recovered in five days. With Captain Conrad Howard breathing down their necks, Burnett and Lowrey arrange for an informant - Maxine Logan - to keep an eye open for anyone newly rich.
Maxine and her friend Julie end up employed by former crooked cop Eddie Dominguez as escorts but without warning, Eddie's kingpin boss Fouchet arrives with his henchmen. Murdering both Maxine and Eddie in cold blood, Fouchet fails to notice Julie escaping and she heads straight for the precinct, hoping to be put into protective custody. But Julie will only talk to Mike and with Mike suddenly indisposed, Marcus attempts to win her trust...
DS Mike Lowrey
DS Marcus Burnett
Capt. Conrad Howard
Michael Barrie, Jim Mulholland & Doug Richardson
Release Date (UK)
16th June, 1995
Action, Comedy, Thriller
What's to Like?
You remember the TV show Miami Vice, right? Of course you do - beautiful women, amazing scenery, lots of colour and style, plenty of sports cars and so on. This is the movie equivalent—the film oozes glamour and style over anything else, in much the same way the 2001 Ocean's Eleven remake did. Things like story and characterisation just slow the film down so it's a rapid-fire procession of action scenes that blow you away at their sheer extravagance. Bay is a known pyromaniac and when coupled with producers Simpson and Bruckheimer, it wasn't a question of whether there would be explosions but simply how many.
It's not just about the action, though. Smith and Lawrence are a genuinely winning pair, proving to be as adapt at comedic interplay as they are shooting their way around a case. It's nice to see a buddy-cop film with actual chemistry - the only other example I can think of to get things right between the two leads is the increasingly venerable Lethal Weapon. Pantoliano is also good as the comic-relief captain at the station while Leoni and Karyo give their fairly one-dimensional roles plenty of bite.
- The film was originally titled "Bulletproof Hearts" and was written for comedians Dana Carvey (of Wayne's World fame) and Jo Lovitz. But during a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate their forthcoming work, Carvey was horrified at the antics of notorious party animal Don Simpson and later pulled out of the project altogether which meant the film had to be re-thought out.
- Bay didn't like the script very much and encouraged Smith and Lawrence to improvise. Bay secretly told Smith to call his co-star a bitch before the 'driving Miss Daisy' scene and when Lawrence complained to Bay, he was told to act accordingly in the scene.
- Vic Manni, who plays one of Fouchet's bodyguards in the film, was actually Don Simpson's bodyguard. Simpson hired him after being threatened by the Mafia.
What's Not to Like?
However, you can have too much of a good thing and if this film proves anything then it's the old adage about 'style over substance'. In terms of script, characters, action, and direction, Bad Boys offers nothing you haven't already seen before and you certainly have since, given how influential Bay has become. Think about it—does this movie offer anything different than what was already in Beverly Hills Cop, an action comedy about buddy cops blowing things up in the name of police-work? I also remembered of the scene from the Simon Pegg comedy Hot Fuzz which brilliantly pokes fun at the equally lavish sequel where Pegg's by-the-book policeman watches the film and questions the amount of paperwork that would be required with so much collateral damage.
Part of the problem with Bad Boys is inherent within the action genre itself, in that it simply doesn't stay with you. While it's on, it bombards you with violence and wise-cracks and scenes of illogical yet amazing action. But when it's finished, it's almost completely forgotten about. No matter how good the two leads are or how funny a film is, it simply feels far too similar to a hundred other films out there. There isn't a spark of originality anywhere in the picture and frankly, I find that sad.
Should I watch it?
Bad Boys is probably one of the best rental movies you could ask for, wowing its undemanding audience with spectacle and an amusing couple of lead actors. But it won't go down as a classic because it's too derivative and the movie gets lost in its own trail of destruction. I had no real idea how one scene linked to the next but if all you're after is a brainless and pretty action film then this will do the trick just fine.
Great For: blokes' night in, fans of Miami Vice, pyromaniacs, petrol-heads.
Not So Great For: actual law enforcement, Miami's public image, veteran action movie-goers.
What Else Should I Watch?
For starters, there's Bad Boys II which offers almost the exact same movie as this but with a bigger budget so the explosions are... well, bigger. Of course, buddy-cop action movies aren't exactly rare - Beverly Hills Cop and its sequels sees Eddie Murphy on fine form as Detroit detective Axel Foley while Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are a winning combination in the equally Eighties franchise-starter Lethal Weapon. Even legendary lone-wolf John McClane was given a partner in the shape of Samuel L Jackson for 1995's Die Hard With A Vengeance, which ups the action ante even further and still has Bruce Willis in wise-cracking mode.
Bay has become something of a polarizing figure for movie-lovers. His films are rarely well received and yet, he has earned several billion dollars at the global box office. His best reviewed film is The Rock which sees Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery attempt to break into Alcatraz to stop rogue US Marines launching chemical weapons. It's just as loud, brash and stylish as Bad Boys but is the more enjoyable film due to Connery's innate charisma.
© 2017 Benjamin Cox