At this point, you would think I'd hate Bad Boys for the mere fact that it launched Michael Bay's filmmaking career, but even though I've developed a fairly negative bias against the man after the epically bad Transformers 2, Bad Boys remains as one of my favorite action films of all time. Now I know some of the film purists out there are spitting the likes of 'blasphemy' under their breath right now, and I guess I can't blame them for that. There isn't a shred of originality in the film's 118 minute runtime, and unfortunately, some of the one-liners can be eye wincingly bad. If you've read any of my reviews of certain lackluster films in the past however, you already know that I'm a firm believer that a great film doesn't necessarily need to be great in most respects. Bad Boys is a prime example of this, because although this film has plenty of flaws, the pros definitely outweigh the cons, and I couldn't be happier about it finally getting the Blu-ray treatment. Much like the film itself though, despite the fact this Blu-ray is decent enough in its own right, it isn't without some flaws.
Despite my love for this film, I have to be perfectly honest with you - Formulaically and on paper, Bad Boys had the potential to be a horrifying train wreck. The entire film borrows heavily from such 'buddy cop' films as Lethal Weapon and 48 Hours, except instead of predictably pairing a white guy with a black guy to see what hilarity ensues, Martin Lawrence and Will Smith are joined up to give us a hefty dose of Beverly Hills Cop instead. Such blatant 'borrowing' is reason enough to have the red flag raised under normal circumstances, because what the film is seemingly trying to tell us right out of the gate is, "You've already seen this movie before, so why bother?" Watching this film with a focus on plot and character development doesn't help to put such concerns to bed either. Our two main buddy-buddy cop characters predictably have some issues to work out with one another, the material witness they're supposed to protect is more like a thick-skinned (and sexy) sidekick than anything else, the police captain is always blowing his top, and the villain is, but of course, a creepy drug lord. Throw in the cheesy one-liners, some forced situational comedy bits, and a little gratuitous lady skin now and again, and you have yourself some Grade A Hollywood cheese. This is unquestionably a typical Hollywood 'film by the numbers', loaded with so many cliches that the script practically could have written itself. In short, every possible ingredient for yet another sleeping pill from Hollywood was contained within the final script.
Now permit me to defy every sensible law of logic known to man when I say, none of these shortcomings matter. Despite the fact that the characters portrayed by Lawrence and Smith are little more than a subtle twist of a tired cliché, the chemistry they have on-screen together is amongst the most memorable I've ever seen in a 'buddy' cop flick. Their banter is smooth and comical, and ultimately make their characters extremely likeable. Bad Boys doesn't do much to hide the fact that it's basically looking for an excuse to string one impressive action sequence after another, but watching Lawrence and Smith interact in between each of those testosterone pumped scenes is such a treat, I never found myself tapping my fingers on the side of the sofa, hoping the next big scene would come along. And speaking of the action, those scenes alone make this film enjoyable enough to forget about all of the typical Hollywood pitfalls. Whether it's smashing an evil doers face into a filthy urinal, having a firefight in a hangar that's conveniently loaded with barrels of flammable material, or driving and shooting at break-neck speeds in fancy sports cars, Bad Boys is chock full of high octane thrills more often than not.
It seems nowadays that Michael Bay's name is synonymous with 'sickening excess with little to no context to back it up', and do I disagree with that sentiment? Absolutely not. However, Bay is practically a Jedi when it comes to conjuring up the most impressive action scenes you're likely to ever see, and Bad Boys showcases that impressive talent marvelously. But this isn't your typical Bay film... at least, not as we know them to be today. The characters are funny (hell, that says a lot considering one of the main characters is played by Martin Lawrence), they have charisma, they display admirable strength (even the girly sidekick played by Tea Leoni), and in the end you ultimately care about them. Despite the basic 'Guide to Hollywood Films 101' plot that's on display, perfect casting picks and excellent action direction kept this movie afloat and then some. I'd even go as far to say that this is one of the more enjoyable popcorn action flicks of all time. If you're a fan of '90s action movies, or hell, just action movies in general, and you haven't gotten around to seeing Bad Boys yet, there's really only one answer to what you should do when you see the Blu-ray case at your local retailer taunting, "Whatcha 'gonna do?"
The AVC encoded 1080p presentation (1.85:1) on this disc isn't stellar, but it's certainly no slouch for a film that's 15 years old. Sony has a pretty good track record for not screwing up their catalog titles with the likes of DNR (digital noise reduction), and Bad Boys is no exception as film grain is present throughout the entirety of the film. It's also worth noting the film hasn't been 'cleaned' either, so there are specks and dirt that can be seen throughout the transfer. Fortunately, it's never a distraction.
The increase in detail over the previously released DVD's is striking, although I'd never go as far to say that said detail is 'fine'. Don't let that scare you away from this release however, as the picture quality remains pretty solid through and through. Again, this film is 15 years old, so I believe this is as good as we can expect considering the age of the source (without doing some kind of restoration, of course). The only other complaint I have is that sharpness levels can vary throughout the film. I'm not talking about anything that's drastic enough to take you out of the film while screening it, but you'll notice some grain spikes and some unnatural edgings (although edge enhancement doesn't seem to be a problem). On the flip side of the coin, there are some softer shots here and there, but I think this is more of a source issue rather than an encode one. Black levels are strong, although at times they can be a little too strong, but don't take that statement to mean there's a tragic amount of black crush. Most of the film sports some very nice black levels, so there's no cause for alarm. Other than that, colors are bold, and skin tones are as accurate as the source allows them to be.
The bottom line is that Bad Boys looks better than it ever did on any home video format before. The film certainly shows its age on this release, but more often than not, I actually felt like I was watching a film... a 15 year old film mind you, but a film nonetheless. The quality on this release overall seems to be a very nice representation of the source (I'd imagine), and fans of the film should walk away pleased. I know I did.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track isn't really immersive, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record here, this movie is 15 years old. The lossless audio is a flawless representation of the source. However, it's the source itself that disappoints. The mix is definitely adequate, and to be fair, the mix is spot on with what you would expect from a film that was made in the '90s. That being said, I've been spoiled over the years and I miss the room shaking bass and constant pinpoint directional sound effects. Don't get me wrong - the rear channels are used throughout the entirety of the film. The problem is that the sound mix doesn't sound natural, it sounds like a mix. A pretty good mix, certainly, but it didn't do a very good job of making me feel like I was in the thick of things. The bass also lacks the same kind of punch we've come to expect from action films nowadays.
It sounds like I'm trashing the lossless audio track, but I'm merely doing my job as a reviewer and informing you of what kind of experience you can expect. Although this film may lack the same level of clarity and directional audio we've come to expect over the years, the action still gets pretty loud without any kind of distortion. Dialogue is also very strong on this release, as it never sounds tinny or gets overwhelmed by anything else that happens on-screen. Bad Boys has never sounded better, period, and for a film that's 15 years old, I was actually impressed with how good it sounded. Much like the video transfer, fans of the film should walk away pretty satisfied.
Commentary with Director Michael Bay - Listening to Michael Bay talk about his work is sort of like playing with a doubled edged sword. He actually spends the entirety of the film discussing relevant information that's easy and interesting enough for everyone to swallow, but unfortunately you have to look past his dry personality in order to take all that valuable information in. Much like the film itself, the pros here heavily outweigh the cons, and anyone who's a fan of this flick should definitely take the time to listen to this commentary.
Putting the Boom and Bang in the Bad Boys - No 'go see my movie' Public Service Announcements here. This featurette (24 minutes) focuses on the special effects of the film, and considering the fact that Bad Boys actually uses real stunts and special effects to deliver the goods, you're definitely going to want to take the time to watch this and see how it's done.
Also included are a few music videos (69 Boyz - Five-O, Five-O (Here They Come), Diana King - Shy Guy, and Warren G - So Many Way), movieIQ+Sync and BD-Live (which weren't activated at the time of this review), and a whole slew of HD movie trailers (none of them for Bad Boys).
This is a pretty disappointing supplemental package, especially when taking into consideration this release is missing the Damage Control featurette that appeared on a previous DVD release. It's also worth noting that the Talent Files are missing as well, but for me personally, I don't consider that a deal breaker. For those of you that are die-hard special feature collectors, you're going to want to hold on to the previous DVD release.
The script is little more than a bunch of recycled ideas from Hollywood with a few subtle twists to change things up, but who cares? The bad guy is effectively creepy, the dialogue is cheesy yet thoroughly entertaining, there's gratuitous use of gorgeous women throughout, and the action sequences are top notch. Bad Boys takes itself seriously, but not too seriously, and the end result is an amazing popcorn action flick that could probably stand well enough on its own in the 'serious' action film arena. If you haven't seen Bad Boys yet, you're missing out on an enjoyable ride from, surprisingly, Michael Bay (his first effort doesn't feel nearly as bloated as any of his other feature films). Although the video and audio on this release isn't as pristine as we're used to seeing with high-def, for a 15 year old film, this release is a faithful representation of the source and should satisfy the fans. I would have given this release a highly recommended rating, but an unfortunately slim supplemental package earns this a mere recommended rating.