By Adam Donato
Eight years after the moderate success of Bad Boys in the ’90s, Michael Bay decided to direct a sequel. The movie brings back Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as their characters juggle their personal issues with each other while trying to solve another case. Since this was a sequel to a successful action movie and Will Smith was at the height of his fame in the early 2000s, Bad Boys 2 was sure to be a hit. Because of this, the movie was given a budget of more than one hundred million dollars over that of the first movie. Did all that money make this installment a better movie?
Seventeen years later, Bad Boys 2 is still one of the most iconic action movies of this century. It’s fair to see how the first movie is very much a product of its time, and the same goes for the second movie. Bay was big in the early 2000s as he had just come off of Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, and would later go on to do five Transformers movies. Movies directed by Bay are easy to spot, and Bad Boys 2 just might be the most Bay movie ever. It’s shot very well, despite being too flashy. Over-the-top and mindless action sequences are hard to care about or even follow. Racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes abound throughout the entire film. A tone of hyper-masculinity dominates as the movie is riddled with guns, drugs, and women’s posteriors. If you’re looking for a movie that appeals to the male basic instincts, then Bad Boys 2 is the one for you.
Same as with the first one, the saving grace of this movie is Lawrence and Smith. The chemistry between them is very good and they are the most interesting thing on the screen. Their banter, while devoid of any sort of cleverness, is still funny due to the energy of these comedic artists. Just like the first movie, the two leads have a source of conflict between them in the form of personal problems. Mike is dating Marcus’s sister and Marcus is planning on transferring away from Mike. This sets up a more promising conflict, but both situations are resolved in the most pointless way that makes you wonder if the subplot was even necessary in the first place.
Smith has a love interest in the form of Gabrielle Union in this movie. She is an undercover cop looking for her big break as her case gets mixed up with the Bad Boys. There was little to no resolution with her character besides she helped solve the case and she kissed Mike on the beach in front of her brother at the end. Joe Pantoliano steals every scene he is in. He’s just so upset and it’s funny to try to figure out what’s going on with his hair as he goes on his angry tirades. Villains Jordi Molla and Peter Stormare are much more interesting in this movie. It’s very hard to understand what’s going on with their story, either because it’s too convoluted or it’s too boring, but at least they have plenty of personality. Also, Michael Shannon plays a disgruntled KKK member and is hilarious every time he is on screen. You’d think he is above this, but in the same year Bad Boys 2 came out, he also played the villain of Kangaroo Jack.
Compared to the first movie, it’s hard to say whether or not it’s better or worse. It’s better in the sense that the budget is higher, which makes the action scenes a lot bigger and more frequent. It seemed towards the beginning that there was gonna be more of a plot to this movie than the first one, but that was also a disappointment. The villains were more memorable, but that is probably just because they were crazy drug addicts. It looks nicer overall and is more iconic from a historical perspective. The 360º shot with the famous quote “Shit just got real” is dope. But at the same time, Bad Boys 2 has a lot working against it. It’s a half-hour longer for absolutely no reason. If the first one didn’t exist, then the sequel would be better, but knowing how disappointed Bay was with the first one, it’s discouraging to see him make the same movie with a bigger budget. They’re both not good movies, but the second one stings more because it’s hard to see filmmakers not take advantage of improved situations.
The benefit of the doubt was given with the first movie due to production issues, but the sequel doesn't have much of an excuse. It’s crazy and over the top, but there is absolutely no substance there. It’s hard to recommend this movie to anybody except twelve-year-old boys who just hit puberty. Getting off the critical film soapbox, Bad Boys 2 is exactly what you’d expect from a Bay-directed blockbuster. There’s cool action, hot girls, and funny one-liners. There is a large fanbase for this movie, so here’s to all you frat boys and middle-aged men. If you require movies to have things like a good story, character arcs, or themes, then steer clear of this spectacle of testosterone.
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