Apparently Michael Bay called this screenplay “a piece of shit.” Well… I can see that.
Honestly, this movie isn’t terrible, but it’s not great either. It really just suffers from borrowing too much from other buddy-cop action flicks. It’s part Lethal Weapon, part Rush Hour, part Beverley Hills Cop, etc, etc, but none of this appropriation leads to anything exciting. You get standard action fare here, dressed up a bit with foul mouthed humor from Martin Lawrence and Will Smith.
Actually, Lawrence and Smith’s banter is the best part of this movie. Michael Bay’s hatred of the script lead him to encourage a lot of improvisation from the two leads, and it does work. You get the sense that these two have a long backstory as partners because their dialogue sounds natural. There are also some pretty funny exchanges and one liners, which should come as no surprise as both Lawrence and Smith were seasoned TV actors at this point.
But then you’re forced to sit through yet another overly long action sequence, which reminds you that this is a Michael Bay movie. It’s surprising that he even put thought into the dialogue at all. Or maybe that’s why he hated it so much?
This movie always brings back fond memories for me. I was in Miami (the film’s setting) with my dad when I saw it and loved it straight away. It’s difficult to remember a time when Will Smith wasn’t a huge star, but when this film first came out he was something of an unknown. He certainly wasn’t the box office powerhouse he is now. If anything Martin Lawrence was the bigger star of the two leads. Will Smith was known mostly for some rapping he did and starring in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Martin Lawrence was established in his own successful sitcom called Martin so he was arguably more well known. Obviously things were about to change. This movie was the first in a string of hits for Smith. It lead to huge success as an action star in films like Men in Black and Independence Day. He is great as the cocky police officer Mike Lowery. His chemistry with Martin Lawrence is what makes the film. They work together really well. Lawrence’s over the top antics gel well with Smith’s cool attitude. You believe they’ve been partners for some time and the movie works because of how well the two leads play off each other.
Obviously there are other aspects needed for an action film to work and Bad Boys is no exception. The film is directed by Michael Bay so you don’t have to worry about a lack of action. It is here in spades. The film is also very funny. Forcing Lawrence and Smith to switch roles halfway through the film is really entertaining. Seeing Lawrence try to be suave like Will Smith is one of the movie’s highlights.
Smith and Lawrence star as two narcotics cops based in Miami. A large haul of heroin has been stolen from their station, they are tasked with finding the culprits before the thief can deal to the highest bidder. There is also suspicion from Internal Affairs that it was an inside job so they must find the culprit quickly before they’re all reassigned. Along the way, one of Smith’s prostitute friends is murdered by the drug dealers. This murder is witnessed by one of her friends (Tea Leoni), but she will only talk to Mike Lowery. When Will Smith is not available, Martin Lawrence is sent as a replacement to pretend to be Will and keep this witness safe.
There are some very funny moments in this film. The banter between Smith and Lawrence is what sets it apart from other action comedies. It doesn’t reach the heights of a Lethal Weapon, but it’s still pretty good.