"Oh, he gonna test drive the s--- outta this."
"Bad Boys II" is absolutely ridiculous, violent, over-the-top, ear-poppingly loud and seemingly as much inspired by the game "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" as it is the first "Bad Boys" film.
Yet, I liked it.
Seemingly aimed towards those who responded poorly towards Bay's "Pearl Harbor", "Bad Boys II" is Bay to the 10th power - loud, flashy and explosive - and then some. The film comes eight years after the original, which introduced us to Bay's work and also, made bigger stars out of then-TV actors Will Smith and Martin Lawrence (the film was originally going to star Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz). The sequel reunites Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Smith) in Miami (rumors had the film's plot headed overseas, with the working title "Bad Around The World") trying to stop a massive shipment of a particularly bad batch of ecstacy from hitting the shores. In other words, it's the original, only much bigger and about four times as expensive. Meanwhile, Marcus' sister, Sydney (Gabrielle Union), is working for the DEA on the bust and also, seeing Mike.
Plot? Well, that's about all there is to it. However, Bay and the film's team of screenwriters have managed to turn a simply plotted action picture into a 150-minute epic. The film certainly doesn't skip on the action sequences, throwing such sequences at the audience as a band of thieves on a car truck tossing cars - which spin and flip down the highway (one going right over their heads) in pure Bay fashion - at Marcus and Mike. Another scene late in the movie has the two trying to overtake a giant mansion, which much of the Cuban army in persuit.
The acting is pretty decent, too. Lawrence and Smith still share great chemistry with one another, and the film's comedy - despite being pretty crude at times - is well-delivered by both (Lawrence has been funny with Smith and, in "Nothing to Lose", Tim Robbins). As with any Michael Bay film, the camera is just as much a character - see one shootout, where Smith fires at criminals on both sides, behind him in the next room. The camera circles through both rooms - seamlessly, as it did in David Fincher's "Panic Room" - as the action continues.
Overall, it's too bad that "Bad Boys" didn't go someplace else with the characters, but in terms of more of the same, at least this is much - much (at 150 minutes, it's too much) - more of the same. Although it didn't exactly get a welcome reception, I thought it was a fun picture.
VIDEO: "Bad Boys II" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen here. With sleek cinematography from "Coyote Ugly" DP Amir Mokri, "Bad Boys II" has the sleek, stylized appearance of a Bay picture. The transfer mostly does the film's look justice, but there were some concerns scattered throughout. No compression artifacts were apparent (all the supplements have their own disc, so the film is essentially by itself on disc 1) and the print looked pristine. The only issue that the presentation really has is in regards to edge enhancement: while not severe, there are noticable, mild instances of edge enhancement in several scenes.
Sharpness and detail remained first-rate throughout the show, as the picture maintained impressive definition and clarity. The film's bright, vivid color palette looked well-saturated and clean throughout, with no flaws.
SOUND: "Bad Boys II" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's sound design is as amped-up as the action sequences, which is a pleasant change from the original, whose sound work - I don't think - reached even the level of what should be expected from a picture of its age. The soundtrack for the sequel, however, is the definition of a modern action film sound mix. Furious, very directional, very loud and absolutely over-the-top, the film's audio pushes very discrete surround use at every moment, offering up reinforcement of the score or impressively detailed and distinct sound effects (see the sequence where the camera spins around the gunfights taking place in a couple of rooms). Despite not being an official EX soundtrack, those who can enable a back rear surround should, as it turns the film's gunfights (and action scenes in general) into 360 degree affairs. The film's gun battles sound realistic enough that most viewers will be ducking in their listening rooms.
Sound quality is also first-rate, as the film's soundtrack is remarkably dynamic. Dialogue remains crystal clear throughout, as do sound effects. Bass is a constant presence in the soundtrack - often heard, often felt. Very impressive, but I suppose I'll have to wait for the (likely) Superbit edition to hear it all in DTS.
EXTRAS: This is a 2-DVD special edition, produced by David Prior ("Fight Club" DVD). The only disappointment is that Bay does not provide his usual frank, honest and curse-filled (few people pepper their sentences with foul language more entertainingly than Bay) commentary.
"This is just a s---, f---in day."
-director Michael Bay, in an on-set featurette.
Trailers: Bad Boys, Bad Boys II, Once Upon A Time in Mexico, Radio, S.W.A.T., Spider-Man (Animated), The Missing (whose trailer has an impressive 5.1 presentation), and Underworld. These are the only supplements on Disc 1.
Visual Effects: This is an 18-minute featurette that focuses on the work of visual effects director Rob Legato, who worked on such films as "Titanic" and Bay's "Armageddon". This piece goes into working on the film's visual effects, talking about some of the bigger FX sequences as well as the littler visual FX that most people don't notice.
Stunts: This is a 9-minute featurette that focuses on the film's stunts, which, amazingly, are mostly real-for-real, when I'd guessed that the majority of the a couple of sequences were made mostly of visual FX.
Sequence Breakdowns: This section provides script material, on-set footage, storyboards, final sequences and more for six sequences. Easily the most fascinating element is the on-set footage, where Bay's intensity (I think he curses as many times in the featurettes as you'll find in the movie) makes for quite the entertaining show. When things go wrong or aren't going fast enough, people are certainly informed. Although there isn't tons of it, this is definitely great on-set footage. Occasionally, there is also on-screen text that offers further explanation of technical terms or certain procedures.
Production Diaries: This section offers 19 short featurettes that explore different aspects of the production. We see more about the film's stunts, learn more about the preparations and obstacles involved in the production. Additionally, there are raw dailies scattered throughout, so we do get to see some outtakes - and we also get to see the $25,000 check that Bay wrote to Columbia Pictures back in 1995 to get a scene completed. These are very informative and interesting segments, but I was a little disappointed that there was not a "play all" option involved, especially when dealing with something like this where there's 19 pieces.
Also: 7 minutes of deleted scenes (mainly extensions) and Jay-Z's "La-La-La" music video.
Final Thoughts: "Bad Boys II" provides 2-1/2 hours of insane, over-the-top action and R-rated comedy. If you liked the first, you'll enjoy what this one has to offer. It's just an expensive, technically remarkable and quite mindless action fest, with Smith and Lawrence offering fine performances. The DVD is impressive, with spectacular audio and superb video quality. Recommended for action fans.