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"For the role of the Phantom we wanted somebody who has a bit of rock and roll sensibility in him. "  -Andrew Lloyd Webber, composer, The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
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Miami detectives, smooth operator Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and family man Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are assigned to a task force working to stop the gangs who are bringing new and dangerous forms of ecstasy into Miami. Sleazy kingpin Johnny Tapia (Jordi Molla) has made so much in mega-bucks that the rats are eating his cash before he can move it to safe haven in Cuba. Unbeknownst to Marcus, his sister Syd (Gabrielle Union) is helping Tapia launder the dirty dough while working undercover for the DEA. Marcus is concerned that Syd might get caught in the crossfire when Tapia goes to war with Alexei (Peter Stormare), a Russian middleman who is skimming the cream from his profits…and the cop can’t quite cope with the idea that his gung-ho buddy and sister Syd (Gabrielle Union) who is also an undercover DEA agent, have the hots for each other.

Review by Jake Wilson:
Words like cartoonish, over-the-top and one-dimensional scarcely begin to describe Bad Boys 2 - the most garish superproduction yet from action mogul Jerry Bruckheimer and his pet director Michael Bay, the Spinal Tap of filmmaking teams. Bay's visual style, as ever, is all sweeping low-angle shots and digital fancy footwork: bullets fly, tyres screech, homoerotic banter runs rampant. All those explosions, car crashes, broken glass! During the big action sequences, the fragmented images often seem like a largely meaningless accompaniment to the soundtrack - the film's biggest pleasure, especially those seat-rattling bass frequencies. 

Overall, the relentless bombardment is more painful than exhilarating, but there's something arrestingly weird about the presumption that that this is mainstream entertainment, considering the reliance throughout on intentionally extreme bad taste. A comically gratuitous shot of two rats having sex ties in with a running theme of humans-as-beasts, and a Blues-Brothers-style demolition of a Cuban village plays like a barely veiled satire of American foreign policy, yet Bay and his screenwriters never overtly cross the line between mindless macho triumphalism and the frank self-loathing of a Paul Verhoeven movie. 

Where a slumming art filmmaker like Verhoeven can acknowledge and explore his own fascination with degradation, murder, and wasteful excess, here similar perverse passions have to be balanced and justified by a ludicrous anti-drug message and other affirmations of 'normality' (paeans to family values, racial tolerance, or the joys of male friendship). Lacking the courage of his own cynicism, Bay flails about, trapped within his own costly machinery; without some purpose behind the pyrotechnics, no amount of sensory overload is enough to free us from boredom.

Special Features reviewed by Shannon J. Harvey:
Sure, there's fun to be had with this despicably distasteful boys-own action-comedy, and the fun continues with the DVD’s comprehensive 2-disc package, where grown-up boys reveal the secrets of making action movies. On the best of two featurettes, for example, we see grown stunt coordinators play with Matchbox cars to choreograph major stunt sequences. The result used real cars, airport runways and minimal CGI, but it's still strange to see the use of Matchbox cars to coordinate the filming of a $100 million-plus blockbuster. 

Director Michael Bay adds plenty of funny on-set anecdotes, the best of which is how the $300,000 silver Ferrari remained scratch-free until Martin Lawrence dinged the passenger door on a pylon. The second featurette - devoted to Visual Effects - reveals how computer animation storyboarded everything from the bullet time "butt shooting" to the extended car chase, and how wire frame CGI models enhanced real action. Sequence Breakdowns carries on the Visual Effects theme, stripping down six individual scenes to mere storyboard, script and behind the scenes footage. It's interesting stuff for students of movie-making. Seven deleted scenes are included without commentary. Most are lacklustre, however, and as the film ballooned out to 147 minutes, they were best left on the cutting room floor.

Production Diaries are divided into 19 bite-sized parts which delve even further into the production. You begin with the inception of the original Bad Boys, outtakes of Smith and Gabrielle Union getting it on (?), and the pressure to make a box office hit nine years down the track. It's not the best feature on the package, but again director Michael Bay adds some spicy anecdotes, such as how he financed $25,000 to shoot the ending of Bad Boys but didn't get the money back until it made $60 million domestically – and even then he had to ask! Bay foregoes the standard audio commentary - a good thing given the film's low-brow appeal. There's no DTS or ES sound, but all in all, this revved up DVD package is a humorous, high octane surprise winner.

Published February 12, 2004

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BAD BOYS 2: DVD (M15+)

CAST: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Jordi Mollŕ, Gabrielle Union, Peter Stormare, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano

DIRECTOR: Michael Bay

SCRIPT: Shelton, Jerry Stahl

RUNNING TIME: 147 minutes

PRESENTATION: 2:40:1, 16:9 enhanced widescreen Dolby Digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Music Video, Sequence Breakdowns, Production Diaries

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 11, 2004

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