Bad Boys (1995) dir Michael Bay
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Tea Leone, Tchéky Karyo
By Alan Bacchus
Kudos to Jerry Bruckheimer for jumping starting both Michael Bay’s and Will Smith’s (and to a lesser extent Martin Lawrence’s) careers in one film. For Bay, the jump from music videos to feature film was not a big leap. Anyone familiar with his work on the Celine Dion, Meat Loaf and Aerosmith videos he did in the early 90’s you could see his brand of grandiose melodrama and excessive style in those videos.
With Bad Boys Bay makes the most of a dusted off throwback buddy action comedy and injects it with as much cinematic testosterone as he can to make he and the film stand out in the crowd. Ultimately it feels like an outcast from the bygone 80’s era of ultraviolent and stylishly excessive 80’s action era.
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence play Mike Lowry and Marcus Burnett a pair of drug cops chasing down stylish baddies around bright and sunny Miami. Mike is the single man, the suave womanizer and loose cannon – the Mel Gibson of the duo. And Marcus is the Danny Glover, the family man, who continually butts heads with Mike’s aggressive style.
After a stash of heroin disappears from the evidence roomof the police Mike and Marcus are put on the case by their hot headed captain played Joe Pantoliano. When a beautiful witness shows up in need of witness protection Mike and Marcus get assigned to protect her, the hang up being that Mike and Marcus have to switch names and personalities in order to gain her trust. And so a comedy of errors ensues between the normal conservative Marcus having to become a charming bachelor under cover of his suspicious wife.
Though he has different writers for each of his film cadence and rhythm of the dialogue is surprisingly consistent. In BB, Smith and Lawrence feel like a wrestling tag team riffing and rolling with one another with ease, but Bay’s dialogue is read so fast and with such gusto, it becomes a pantomime performance.
Arguably Michael Bay was just getting warmed up in terms of action. There are a few action scenes which only adequately arouse our primal needs for violence and speed. The opening heist scene is well planned out, but is edited with such aggressive force, we lose the true rhythm of the scene.
A few other shoot outs and chases tease us with Bay’s skills in these departments, but it wouldn’t be until Bad Boys 2 where Bay’s skills as an action auteur would come to bear fully. While the sequel was almost universally reviled and cut down by critics, its one of the most astonishing action films ever made – so audacious and derogatory to our senses it becomes almost farcical. And in terms of blowout action comedy few films can rival Bad Boys 2. But more on that later...
Bad Boys is available on Blu-Ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment