Review: “Bad Boys” (Film)

Well, for the next review in my “1990s Films” series, I thought that I’d check out an action/detective/comedy film from 1995 called “Bad Boys”. Although I vaguely remember watching the sequel to it sometime during the early-mid 2000s, I’m pretty sure that I haven’t seen the original film before.

So, when I noticed that it was part of a fairly cheap DVD boxset (which also included “Striking Distance” too), I thought that I’d check it out.

Before I go any further I should point out that this review may contain some SPOILERS and that the film itself contains some FLICKERING/ STROBING LIGHTS in one scene set in a nightclub (although I don’t know if they’re intense/fast enough to cause problems or not).

So, let’s take a look at “Bad Boys”:

And, yes, I’ll also be reviewing “Striking Distance” during this review series too 🙂

“Bad Boys” follows two narcotics detectives in Miami called Burnett and Lowrey (played by Martin Lawrence and Will Smith) who are investigating the theft of $100 million worth of drugs from a police evidence room. The only catch is that they’ve got to solve the case in four days, lest their department be shut down for incompetence…..

And, yes, the characters even comment about the fact that the evidence locker contains a large ventilation shaft.

After some of the stolen drugs are found at the house of a murdered ex-cop (along with the body of one of Lowrey’s friends), someone called Julie (played by Téa Leoni) rings the police department and demands to speak to Lowrey.

Julie is a friend of Lowrey’s murdered friend, and she witnessed the entire thing (and, as such, is being pursued by the criminals). But, fearful of reprisals or corrupt police officers, she’ll only speak to Lowrey. However, Lowrey is out investigating a lead. So, Burnett is told by his boss to impersonate Lowrey.

Needless to say, hilarity, action and adventure follows….

As opposed to careful by-the-book police work and methodical investigation.

One of the first things that I will say about “Bad Boys” is that it works well as an action movie, a drama film and a comedy. However, the detective-based parts of the film can occasionally rely a little bit too much on coincidence and contrivance. Yes, there is some supsense and mystery- but the case at the heart of the film is mostly just there as an excuse for amusing situations, character-based drama and/or thrilling action set-pieces.

Still, the film does at least pay lip service to it’s “detective movie” elements, with the detectives occasionally investigating or following leads. However, this film is more of an action movie than a police procedural.

But, this isn’t to say that this film is all style and no substance. Although comedy and action are central parts of the film, these are still anchored in a compellingly dramatic story that revolves around two or three well-written characters.

Likewise, the film occasionally blends action and comedy in a fairly good way. Such as when the two detectives suddenly realise exactly what they’re hiding behind during a frenetic gunfight.

If anything, this film is more of a character study of the (occasionally antagonistic) friendship between Lowrey and Burnett than anything else – with both of them getting the bulk of the characterisation in this film.

Although Julie also gets a fair amount of characterisation too, the main focus of the film is on the two detectives. Even the film’s main villain is something of a two-dimensional character, who is just there to give Burnett and Lowrey an excuse to have a thrilling action-packed adventure.

Then again, a film about these characters just doing ordinary police work would also be quite fun to watch.

This character-based drama and comedy is helped by the contrast between Burnett and Lowrey’s lives (eg: Burnett is a fairly ordinary middle-class family man and Lowrey is handsome, wealthy, single etc..). However, although these differences play a key part in the film’s comedy, they usually aren’t over-emphasised to cartoonish extremes too often. And, despite many amusing arguments and/or misunderstandings, the two characters’ friendship is a central element of the film.

The film’s comedy elements work well, although they are a little bit more subtle than I expected. The bulk of the comedy comes from amusing dialogue between Lowrey and Burnett, in addition to the fact that they have to impersonate each other too. As well as this, there’s also some slapstick comedy, ironic humour, movie references and farce that helps to keep the film’s humour varied.

For example, one of the funniest slapstick scenes in the film is when Burnett tries his hand at weightlifting whilst Lowrey talks to an informant.

Although the film isn’t “laugh out loud” funny that often, the frequently amusing dialogue and situations often help to give the film a slightly more light-hearted emotional tone.

For example, this scene where the two detectives are pretending to be each other (and arguing, whilst trying not to look like they’re arguing) is absolutely brilliant.

The film’s action elements also stand up pretty well, even to this day. Since this film was directed by Michael Bay, it’s a given that it contains several dramatic explosions (with the rather pyrotechnic final battle against the villains being a good example of this). But the film also contains a few well-choreographed gun fights, fist fights and car chases too. The action scenes in this film are all fairly compelling, if somewhat “standard” quite a lot of the time.

Still, there are some interesting action scenes – such as one involving barrels and one where Lowrey chases a car on foot.

Likewise, the film’s pacing is also reasonably decent too – with the film remaining compelling throughout. However, at 116 minutes in length, the running time is a little on the bloated side of things. Yes, the film never quite feels “too long”, but it would have probably been even more compelling if the editor had been allowed to edit a bit more. Then again, compared to the films that Michael Bay made after this one, 116 minutes is relatively short in comparison.

In terms of lighting, set design and visual style – this film has some amazing moments. Not only are there lots of dramatic sunsets and cityscapes that just ooze mid-1990s awesomeness, but there’s also some truly brilliant interior design and cool set design, which is complemented with the kind of brilliantly gloomy lighting that is pretty much synonymous with the 1990s.

Yes, it’s ludicrous and completely impractical but, dammit, I want one of those large glowing clocks!

And this cityscape looks AMAZING!

I’m not sure if I prefer the set design or lighting design here. Both are amazing!

Musically, this films is rather interesting. Although most of the film’s background music uses a variety of instruments and styles, there is a single sequence of notes that turns up in many of the film’s songs. This sounds really thrilling and dramatic, although it is also one of those catchy pieces of music that will probably get stuck in your head fairly easily.

All in all, this is a good film. It is filled with comedic dialogue, thrilling action, stylish visuals and a compelling story. Although I have a few criticisms of this film (eg: the running time, the two-dimensional villain, the contrived elements of the investigation etc..), it is still a very good film overall.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least four.

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