Review for Bad Boys I & II
I fell into the trap again; buying a film I probably didn’t want. The history books are going to need a lot of caveats and provisos when they will say that Bad Boys For Life was one of the biggest grossing movies of 2020, but the rumours were that it wasn’t complete garbage. This year, I’ll take that as a resounding endorsement, and I went and got the Blu-ray on the week of release. But then I realised that a 20 year old DVD of the original Bad Boys wasn’t going to cut it anymore if I wanted to revisit the original before trying the new film, and on the same supermarket shelf, there was a copy of the 20th Anniversary Collection for under £7. So now I have a copy of Bad Boys II as well; a film that I’ve managed to avoid watching for 17 years. Apparently these two films have got new transfers for the release, mastered in 4k. You get two discs in a BD Amaray case, one on a centrally hinged panel.
Introduction: Bad Boys
When the Miami Police department is broken into and 200 million dollars worth of heroin is stolen from the evidence vaults, all signs point to an inside job. The finger of suspicion falls on the vice cops and they have 4 days to solve the crime and retrieve the drugs before they become scapegoats and Internal Affairs shuts the department down. Two cops, Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett pursue the case, but leads are hard to come by. A desperate phone call comes in from Julie Mott, who has witnessed the murder of Mike’s friend by the thieves. Julie will only trust Mike, but when Mike is unavailable, Marcus has to impersonate his partner to gain her trust. All this to get the heroin back and the bad guys have other ideas.
The Disc: Bad Boys
Bad Boys gets a 1.85:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, with DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English, French, and German, and DD 5.1 Polish Voiceover and Russian with subtitles in these languages and Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. It’s a pretty decent transfer, clear and sharp with strong colours. Detail levels are good, and the image is crisp. It hasn’t quite got the crystal sharp pop that you might be expecting from a 4k restoration, but it is really almost there. And it’s nice to see an orange movie without any teal in it. There’s a whole heap of Miami filter applied to the exterior scenes, a city where the sunset is eternal. The audio is excellent, really well designed and effective, bringing the action and music across in a wholly immersive way. The scene with the dead body has a fly buzzing around the room which will actually start to bug you.
Extras: Bad Boys
I wouldn’t think it possible, but this Blu-ray has less in the way of extra features than the DVD. It boots to a static menu.
On the disc, you’ll find the commentary with Michael Bay.
Putting the Boom & Bang In The Bad Boys lasts 23:54.
The three music videos are here running to a total of 11:12.
Both of the latter are in SD, the Teaser and Theatrical Trailer are in HD though.
In addition to all this, the DVD also had an isolated score and a VFX featurette.
Conclusion: Bad Boys
It still works, and it still shouldn’t. I enjoy Bad Boys; it’s a fun comedy action movie with some great character moments and some really solid action. That’s despite it having a truly 90s lads’ mag sensibility and attitudes that seem pretty outdated now. It’s also Michael Bay’s directorial debut; a director who has made a career on vapid, and over-cooked action movies with hyper-kinetic camera work obscuring the action rather than enhancing it, and allowing CGI to overwhelm petty concerns about character or narrative. Bad Boys is pretty understated from Michael Bay, a film where he was constrained by budget to actually have to do something with the characters and the story. Compared to his later films, this is On Golden Pond.
It’s also a Simpson-Bruckheimer production, and given the style and tone of the film, you can almost see it as a Miami franchise version of Beverly Hills Cop, with two Eddie Murphys for the price of one. Wise-cracking, fast-talking comedy stars hold up pretty well as action leads, and this was a big transition for Will Smith, right in between the TV sitcom stardom of The Fresh Prince, and the mega-movie action stardom of Independence Day, which would come the following year.
The story is pretty weak, but moves fast enough that you don’t notice. The narrative is emotionally inconsistent, with any emotional honesty in the characters downplayed for buddy-cop antics, and some random scenes thrown in just to add value for the main lead pair, particularly the opening of the film, and the ‘tropical fruit bubblicious’ bit. Bad Boys is an action comedy put together on the fly, it somehow gets from beginning to end without stumbling, yet the action, particularly the music soundtrack, and especially the characterisations all come together to make it a memorable, and eminently quotable film. I love Bad Boys despite what it is, not because of it.
Introduction: Bad Boys II
It’s been eight years, and the strain is showing, not only on the partnership between Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowery, but the whole of the Tactical Narcotics Team of the Miami police. It’s so bad that they’re all in therapy, except for Mike who had sex with his therapist. It’s worse than that, as Mike is now in a relationship with Syd, Marcus’ little sister, and Syd is visiting from New York with the intention of letting Marcus know.
Meanwhile, millions of dollars worth of ecstasy is coming in from Europe, lining the pockets of Johnny Tapia, a Cuban drug lord and the Russian he deals with. The Miami police are playing catch up; every time the Cuban’s been arrested, he’s gotten off and scored millions of dollars in compensation, and they have to tread softly. And Syd is also a newly qualified DEA agent who’s there undercover trying to bring Johnny Tapia down, and she’s in over her head.
The Disc: Bad Boys II
We go scope for the second movie, with a 2.40:1 widescreen 1080p transfer. You have the choice of DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English, French, and German with subtitles in these languages and Arabic, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Swedish, and Turkish. The image is clear and sharp with great detail, and very strong, almost oversaturated colours. There might be a hint of black crush, and a touch of DNR, but the biggest problems will be strange shimmer over the end credits, and the Michael Bay-ism in the direction. The audio is fine if you’re expecting a load of crash, bang and wallop thrown around the soundstage, but the music soundtrack is completely forgettable, and not a patch on that for the first film.
Extras: Bad Boys II
The disc boots to a static menu, and notably uses music from the first film.
There are seven Deleted Scenes (7:19)
There are 19 Production Diaries (67:10)
There are six Sequence Breakdowns (45:21)
Visual Effects (18:38)
La-la-la by Jay-Z (3:52)
And there are two theatrical trailers and the teaser trailer.
All except the trailers are in 480i SD.
Conclusion: Bad Boys II
In between Bad Boys I and II, Michael Bay made The Rock, Armageddon and Pearl Harbour. The difference is that he had to write cheques to get Bad Boys made, for the sequel, the studios were willing to give him a blank cheque, and it shows. It really does show. We’re full on Michael Bay here, to the level that will have Mark Kermode banging his head into a concussion at a Transformers movie. The action in this movie is horrible and indulgent, all fast cuts, nauseating shaky cam and extreme close-ups, plus one scene where the heroes stand up in slow motion while the camera circles them.
The villains in this film are weak and forgettable. Peter Stormare is usually good value, but here his Russian gangster Alexei plays second fiddle to a limp and lightweight Cuban gangster who comes across as a poor man’s Scarface. They obviously wanted to do the same kind of volatile Eurotrash villain of the first film played by Tcheky Karyo, but the actor here just didn’t have the chops. The story in thus sort of film is usually an afterthought, and I can give Bad Boys II a pass for the most part in this respect, expect for the ending of the film which is utterly loopy.
I guess that leaves the humour, which was a strong selling point of the first film. It’s hit and miss here, with some bits between the leads reminiscent of the magic that so charmed in the first film, but some of it is contrived, and uncomfortable to the point of offensive. We’re talking Lethal Weapon 4 bad. There are some scenes which are out of the gross-out comedy manual, and make you wonder just why this film got rated 15, while the first was an 18. Surely it should be the other way around.
The final nail in the coffin (no pun intended) is the length. At almost 2½ hours this film seriously outstays its welcome. It is so indulgent that Bay includes the same car chase twice, once with cars dropping off the back of a transporter causing mayhem, and once with bodies falling out of a mortuary van. Tonally this film reaches levels of repugnance that you’d expect in an exploitation b-movie, and it’s nowhere near as much fun.
There are moments of the old magic in Bad Boys II, just enough to give you enough hope to hold on for a few minutes before it lets you down again, and then surprises you with another out of place good bit. It even rips Jackie Chan’s Police Story off for one of its best action sequences, although the one in Bad Boys II isn’t as good as the original. Depending on how much Bad Boys For Life depends on continuity, this was probably the first and last time I’ll watch Bad Boys II.
Bad Boys II plays like a parody of the first film, and that first film isn’t exactly the acme of the action cinema genre. But I still have a soft spot for the original Bad Boys and it looks pretty decent on Blu-ray high definition. I just hope that Bad Boys For Life is more like the first film than the second. Given that Michael Bay didn’t direct, it might not be a forlorn hope.