Film Reviews


By • Jul 18th, 2003 •

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Columbia Pictures / A Don Simpson / Jerry Bruckheimer production

In defense of Mel Gibson’s PASSION: Just how much chatting was done during Jesus’ last 12 hours?*

First there’s an ecstasy lab, car crashes, gun battles, dead people, a sexy, burnt-out Cuban villain, a fat little girl, and Will Smith wearing a pair of big diamond earrings. Then there’s highway mayhem that totally decimates 22 cars and a boat. A flying car grazes Martin Lawrence’s head as it flips through the air. There’s property damage galore! Houses get blown up on a whim! What a first 20 minutes and there are over 120 more to go. It doesn’t let up. Two, three seconds of dialogue is way too much!

If your stars are not killing people or destroying other people’s stuff, you are boring the audience!

Are there really Klan meetings in Miami? Well, this is the way BAD BOYS 2 begins. No, first comes the ecstasy lab, then young club kids voraciously eating the drug. Someone OD’s, and mean Russian mobster Alexei (Peter Stormare) has him unceremoniously dumped out on a street. Then comes cop partners Marcus (Lawrence) and Mike (Smith) busting up an outdoor KKK meeting. Maybe this is to get us hot for hurling racial slurs. Then comes the money shot: Mike’s god-like camera angle with long coat sailing open in slo-mo.

Did I mention the grizzly autopsies, Mike shoving his hands in dead bodies, huge product placement (why don’t stars just wear big logos on their clothes and get it done with?), nude dead people flying out of vans, vomiting, brains spluttering, and mansions being destroyed? Even poor people get their stuff blasted with machine gun fire.

When I heard Ron Shelton was involved in writing BAD BOYS 2 I was worried. Thankfully, his co-writer is the defiantly irreverent Jerry Stahl. I attended the “Breakfast with…Jerry Stahl” hosted by New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell at CineVegas 2002. Stahl was fabulously entertaining. It was delirious to hear him talk about his life in Hollywood and his approach to writing screenplays. Essentially, he has none! He cares nothing for structure. He laughs at screenwriting manuals. As far as Stahl is concerned, there is no formula (so there is no “Ticking Clock” in BB2)! He doesn’t even believe in writing three-acts! Plots? HA! That’s for people trying to get into the business! So I knew we would be in for a rare treat if Stahl was given free range to write BB2. But what about Shelton’s input? Would he demand producer Jerry Bruckheimer put Lolita Davidovich in BB2? Would he force Sheltonisms into the script?

Because I’m such a fan of Stahl’s, I’m going to attribute all the clever lines and everything I liked about BB2 to him. I’m just going to assume that everybody’s soon-to-be favorite scene, Mike & Marcus hassling a kid picking up Marcus’ young daughter for her first date, is unbridled Stahl. That Marcus and Mike argue during gun fights and rage during car chases gives BB2 a distinctive rawer edge. If there was any sentimental candy that seeped into the script, Shelton was behind it.

I especially liked the casting of Jordi Molla as Cuban kingpin Johnny Tapia. The job of the villain is to almost steal not only the bounty, but the movie, and Molla succeeds.
BB2 is way over the reasonable top but this is what we are expecting and Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay deliver. The money was spent and it’s certainly up on the screen.

* Crucifixion probably first began among the Persians. Alexander the Great introduced the practice to Egypt and Carthage, and the Romans appear to have learned of it from the Carthaginians. Although the Romans did not invent crucifixion, they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment that was designed to produced a slow death with maximum pain and suffering. It was one of the most disgraceful and cruel methods of execution and usually was reserved only for slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and the vilest of criminals. Roman law protected Roman citizens from crucifixion, except perhaps in the case of desertion by soldiers. From “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ” by William D. Edwards, MD; Wesley J. Gabel, Mdiv; Floyd Hosmer, MS, AMI. Published as an appendix in “Tortures and Torments of the Christian Martyrs” by Rev. Antonio Gallonio. See

Detective Marcus Burnett: Martin Lawrence
Detective Mike Lowrey: Will Smith
Johnny Tapia: Jordi Molla
Syd Burnett: Gabrielle Union
Alexei: Peter Stormare
Theresa Burnett: Theresa Randle
Capt. Howard: Joe Pantoliano
Floyd Poteet: Michael Shannon
Roberto: Jon Seda
Detective Mateo Reyes: Yul Vazquez
Detective Marco Vargas: Jason Manuel Olazabal
Carlos: Otto Sanchez
TNT Leader: Henry Rollins

Director: Michael Bay
Screenwriters: Ron Shelton, Jerry Stahl
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Executive producers: Mike Stenson, Chad Oman, Barry Waldman
Director of photography: Amir Mokri
Production designer: Dominic Watkins
Music: Trevor Rabin
Additional music: Dr. Dre
Costume designers: Deborah L. Scott, Carol Ramsey

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