Bad Boys II Superbit Studio: Columbia Tri-Star Year: 2003 Rated: R Film Length: 147 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 Anamorphic Audio: DD and dts 5.1 Color/B&W: color Languages: English Subtitles: English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Thai MSRP: $26.96 Release date: October 26 The Feature 1/2 (all star ratings out of five) The original Bad Boys was a pretty simple affair: a movie based on the annoying song of the same name and the idea that Martin Lawrence and Will Smith would be hilarious in a Buddy/Cop Action/Comedy. It was mostly entertaining, and Tea Leoni gave a good supporting performance, and the film did well. In the years between the first film and this one, its sequel, Smith achieved superstardom, Lawrence’s career all but collapsed, and Leoni married Agent Mulder. Though a sequel was probably inevitable, it sure seemed to take a while to get here. The results are pretty satisfying. Sure, every plot twist strains credulity: Smith and Lawrence use tactics that would make the Taliban blush, and even though we see police officers getting blown away in shootouts instigated by the Bad Boys, we’re informed that “thank God, no cops were killed.” Uh, right. But the logistics of the shootouts are, at best, a distant second to their aesthetics. And in that respect, Bad Boys II is a phenomenal success. An early car chase scene does the impossible: it makes a car chase exciting again. I won’t spoil the fun by describing the action in great depth, but it’s a funny and exhilarating sequence. That’s a recipe the film hopes to exploit throughout it’s two-plus hours of running time. If it overstays its welcome a bit – did we really need a sequence in Cuba? – at least it gives good value for the dollar. That’s more than you can say for many mass entertainments, which burn their 84 minutes with boring exposition and half-assed special effects. That’s certainly not the case here. The energy stays up throughout, thanks mostly to Smith and Lawrence who again have a good chemistry and timing. The plot is fairly standard issue, but it serves as an adequate clothesline for the action sequences. Smith and Lawrence are two Miami cops – agents on the Tactical Narcotics Squad, or something. Inexplicably, they both live like billionaires – Lawrence lives in a palatial house on the water, and Smith drives around in a Ferrari (car guys, please correct me if it’s something else). As the film opens, they are staking out an Ecstasy sale at a Klan rally, dressed as Klansmen (good thing they wear hoods). As do all of their busts, this one turns into a fiasco, with bullets flying everywhere. The Logical Mind will expend great energy trying to figure out why these two remain employed – not to mention heavily armed – when the drugs they’re taking off the streets harm far fewer citizens than their tactics. In the course of their investigation, they kill what must be scores of pedestrians (though we see none); fling (already) dead bodies around the streets; accidentally take Ecstasy and show up at their boss’s house; molest corpses at the morgue; commandeer cars at gunpoint; and lock suspects in their trunk. On this evidence, the two cops should be arrested and the drug dealers should be commended for their gentle good nature. But that’s mostly irrelevant. The point of this movie is nothing more or less than to entertain for two hours, and in that it is effective. Video 1/2 Though Superbit series discs are intended to provide the best possible picture quality, I had a problem with the early scenes here, which suffer from a high level of graininess. Whether this was intended on the part of the filmmakers I cannot say for certain, but the first action sequence and for a few scenes thereafter, it’s impossible not to notice. It comes and goes a bit throughout the rest of the film, but it’s mostly contained to the first 20 minutes or so (and yes, my projector was warmed up when I started viewing). Otherwise, the transfer is beautiful, particular in the bright Miami color palette used throughout. The image is extraordinarily punchy, and detail is also above average. When the graininess that I spoke of is not present, the image can be remarkably smooth, as when, during the climactic confrontation, a body collapses into the sand. Audio 1/2 The rip-roaring special effects and hip hop soundtrack that define this film lend themselves to a superb sound presentation, and the dts track here doesn’t disappoint, with strong bass and reserved, effective use of the surrounds for atmosphere and some appropriate effects. No complaints here, except that at one non-crucial point, a line of Smith’s dialogue is clearly re-dubbed and sounds odd. A minor quibble. The Dolby Digital track is mixed slightly lower, and, flipping back and forth sounded as though it had slightly less bass. After a few comparisons, I settled happily on the dts. Special Features N/A Superbit titles eliminate special features in favor of allocating as much disc space as possible to picture quality. Conclusion I wanted to hate this movie. It’s a transparent money grab – an unnecessary sequel to a film of middling quality. But its style won me over. I’m a sucker for a well made action/comedy, and this certainly fits that description. Director Michael Bay has made some pointless, shallow films, and this fits that description as well. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly in this case. Bad Boys II is not a great film, and Bay doesn’t need to clear any space on his mantle for an Oscar, but it’s far better than it had to be, and for that I am grateful.