Bad and badder

LOUIS B. HOBSON

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

Almost everything about Bad Boys II is excessive - it's too loud, too long and too violent.

Too bad it isn't equally funny.

With the exception of a sequence in an electronics store, the banter between stars Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, which is supposed to be the film's comic relief, falls flat.

It's too meandering and unfocused and too obviously improvised.

Director Michael Bay (Pearl Harbor, the original Bad Boys) may know something about how to shoot explosions and vehicle chases, but he's tone deaf when it comes to comedy, unless he was too intimidated to tell Smith and Lawrence they're just not funny every time out.

Bad Boys II, opening in town today, is the sequel to the 1995 buddy cop flick which was a bit of inspired writing and casting.

Up to that point, most buddy cop pictures, starting with 48 Hours, paired an African-American actor with a white actor.

Bad Boys made the feuding, bickering team two African-Americans. It was like getting a double dose of Eddie Murphy's non-stop cursing and non-stop ethnic-based jokes.

It worked. Smith and Lawrence had chemistry. They had a fairly routine story and lots of fun and action.

This time around they have way too much action and way too little story.

Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) are narcotics officers in Miami's war against drug lords who import everything from cocaine to ecstasy.

In this case, it is the arrival of the largest shipment of ecstasy Miami has ever seen and it's a joint venture between Miami's Russian and Cuban cartels.

The pills and the money that's being laundered are shipped out in coffins and corpses, which makes for a couple of gruesome sequences. Corpses literally fly through the air in one of several chase sequences through the streets of Miami.

In Bay's mind, severing a head and then crushing it is supposed to be hilarious, as is slitting open embalmed corpses to see if they contain either drugs or money.

This is the big problem with a movie like Bad Boys II.

It manages to make the grotesque and horrific funny when it should be anything but.

The villains are played for laughs yet they commit unconscionable acts.

There is way too much carnage in the film. From vehicles to humans, everything is expendable.

Lowrey is given a love interest in Syd Burnett (Gabrielle Union), who just happens to be his partner's sister and, of course, he is overprotective. She also happens to be an undercover narcotics agent from New York working the same case.

That's the kind of strained logic that exists through out Bad Boys II.

Bay does manage to stage several exceptional, albeit outlandish, chase sequences. The mayhem is incredibly believable.

The same is true whenever he blows up a building, which is about every 20 minutes, but he just doesn't know when to stop.

The film looks as if it is winding down when Lowrey and Burnett corner the Cuban kingpin in his Miami estate, but he manages to escape to Cuba with Syd.

This means another half-hour that could have been a movie of its own with half the Miami police force turned into a commando SWAT team.

Bad Boys II is an exercise in excess which manages to make all the mayhem in the latest Charlie's Angels and T3 look positively restrained by comparison.

(This film is rated 18-A)


Videos

Photos