Bad Boys is the iconic buddy cop film of the 90s that jumpstarted the careers of three of Hollywood’s elite players, Michael Bay, Will Smith, and Martin Lawrence. Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett are two of Miami’s hottest detectives. Friends and partners, the two get the job done with style even if they have to bend the rules a little in the process. However, when 100 million dollars worth of heroin is stolen from police evidence lock-up, Mike and Marcus are pressured to find the culprits quietly and quickly before the embarrassment goes public and the feds intervene. The two go to work as usual, but things get personal when one of Mike’s love interests is murdered during the investigation. With the help of the deceased woman’s friend and eyewitness to the murder Julie, they trace the trail of bodies and drugs to the French druglord Fouchet and hunt him down like only the Bad Boys can.
To me, Bad Boys is a classic example of a good buddy cop film carried primarily by the lead actors and the explosive action scenes. Plot-wise the movie is definitely subpar, riddled with as many clichés and corny pieces of dialogue as the bad guys are with bullet holes. The criminals are brutal, but sloppy and leave a bloodied trail so conspicuous and easy to follow that the crime could probably be solved from space. Also, there are several times when major character exposition is given to us so blatantly through dialogue that it’s almost like a parody of an action film and even laughable at times. For example,“[I’m] an out of work photographer who doesn’t know how to cook!” Julie matter-of-factly blurts out when we first see her; or “It’s not my fault I’m rich because my parents left me a bunch of money” Mike flatly states. Film is a visual medium so when there’s something important the audience should know about the story or characters, a good film will always show us, not just tell us.
That’s not to say that Bad Boys isn’t entertaining. In fact, in terms of pure superficial mindless enjoyment it delivers on a level you’d expect from most 90s action films. Midnight drug heists, high speed car chases, hyper-erotic night clubs, mansion shootouts—Bad Boys has it in spades and executes it all well enough to stand the test of time. Bay’s stylistic mark can be seen in its infantile stages throughout the film, especially during the final air hangar firefight, and it’s interesting to see one of the most prolific American directors defining himself in the early stages of his career.
Where the film really excels, however, is in the interplay between its two pre-powerhouse stars. Lawrence and Smith play so well off each other that you never once doubt the viability of their friendship. Smith plays the smooth-talking-loose-cannon-with-something-to-prove to Lawrence’s uptight-by-the-book-family-man and their natural chemistry gives the otherwise shallow film some very much needed heart and substance. While I personally didn’t care for the cut-and paste drug lord plot or even the wife-swap subplot, the two then-young leads prove their Hollywood merit and keep the film from getting bogged down by its tedious story.
Bad Boys on Blu-ray is definitely a step up from DVD, but is still fundamentally visually flawed in areas. The colors are represented nicely, but the contrast levels are strange at times with blacks so dark at times it masks detail in the shot, most noticeably on the faces of the characters. A lot of this, however, can be blamed on the cinematography and lighting of the original film. There is also a significant amount of grain in night and indoor shots, but still the overall picture is sharp enough to make it a worthwhile upgrade.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is pretty impressive for this slightly dated film. The dialogue is overall clear and crisp, but at times it feels like it produce an echo or resonance not relative to the location of the scene. The soundtrack is also not as dynamic as it could be, for example in the crime scene with people walking around and chattering everywhere, but it does produce quite a kick during the action scenes. And there are quite a few action scenes. Gunshots, explosions, shattered glass, all come through powerfully and the score of the film, though somewhat cheesy and dated, does a decent job at setting the mood.
Well, there’s not as much here as I was hoping for, but at least there’s something. I was definitely expecting some kind of deleted scenes or blooper reel so I could watch extended shots of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence improvising like only they can, but alas, no such luck. Extras include:
- Director Commentary
Commentary featuring director Michael Bay. Michael Bay goes into so much technical detail that this is actually one of the most interesting commentaries I’ve ever listened to. He discusses how he shot certain scenes, his inspiration for the lighting or framing of various scenes, the various production costs, and little anecdotes about dealing with the big personalities on set. It’s incredibly interesting and a great supplement for fans of the film.
- Putting the Boom and the Bang in the Bad Boys
A featurette documenting the visual effects, explosions, and props used in the film. The expert crew discuss how they make the gunfire and explosions look convincing on film.
- Music Videos
Three music videos for songs used in the film including: 69 Boyz – “Five O, Five O”, Diana King – “Shy Guy”, and Warren G – “So Many Ways.” I didn’t find these particularly relevant to the film or even entertaining except for the humorous 90s nostalgia element.
In the grand scheme of things, Bad Boys only makes for a slightly-above-mediocre addition the action genre, but a surprisingly decent addition to the buddy cop subgenre thanks to the performances from Smith and Lawrence. Though it has its flaws, Bad Boys is as entertaining as any popcorn action flick of the 90s and will always be remembered as the film that launched Smith and Bay into superstardom.
The screen captures are only a small representation of what the Blu-ray looks like and are not representative of Blu-ray’s true quality.