Jun 042010
 

It was way back in 1995, a full year before Independence Day was released, that The Fresh Prince (Will Smith, Men In Black) got his big movie break; starring as the suave detective Mike Lowery, opposite Martin Lawrence’s (Blue Streak) Marcus Burnett, in on of Jerry Bruckheimer’s (The Rock) best loved action/comedies; Bad Boys.

Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett are two narcotics detectives, who are attempting to recover $100 million worth of heroin, that was stolen from the lockup at their police station, by the ruthless, prostitute murdering, drug-barren, Fouchet (Tchéky Karyo, The Patriot); who is planning to cut the drugs, and selling them on for an exceedingly high profit.

However his plans hit a major snag, when one of his employees throws a party (involving his drugs), and is duly killed by Fouchet for his “stupidity,” whilst a young woman named Julie (Téa Leoni, Deep Impact) watches, and promptly escapes being murdered herself after the killers spot her and realize that she could easily cause them a great deal of trouble.

After escaping Julie attempts to contact Mike Lowery (as he is the only person that her murdered friend would trust in a jam), but as he is unavailable; and they need to secure the cooperation of the only person who can identify the killers, and link them to the stolen drugs (Julie), at any cost; Marcus assumes his identity, and attempts to take her into protective custody, as it’s more than likely that the killers will have tracked her down, and be planning on silencing her by any means necessary.

The situation is then further complicated because as the witness believes that the stressed out family man, Marcus, is actually the dashing womanizer Mike Lowery, he is forced to stay with her, at Mike’s house, while Mike stays with his family; a situation that is much to the dismay of the film’s heroes, as it creates numerous hard to explain scenarios that are difficult for them, but hilarious for anyone on the outside to watch.

The film is then essentially like any other buddy cop movie; as Mike and Marcus continually inch closer to the drugs, and the people who stole them, by piecing together small clues (that generally come via random hunches, or following one of the many gunfights and chases that the pair often find themselves in), and only stopping for regular spots of quick-witted, funny, banter.

That banter is essentially the staple of the film, and the thing that makes it stand apart from most other films in the genre, as the two main characters aren’t complete opposites (as is the case with most buddy movies, such as Lethal Weapon); while Mike may be a stereotypical playboy, and Marcus is an average family man, they share the same background, culture, and the same general approach to policing (unlike the usual wild card, and his more by-the-book/reserved partner); but play off the fact that they are alike, and have constant petty arguments (Mike even refers to Marcus as a ‘nagging wife’ at one point).

And it’s during these arguments that the best humour, and chemistry between the leads, can be seen; as they are both easily capable of performing the action sequences, but clearly excel during the frequent, natural sounding, comedy banter; much of which was actually improvised.

Martin Lawrence is perfectly capable in his role as Marcus Burnett, and the supporting cast; which includes Tchéky Karyo, Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos) as a local drug dealer, Marg Helgenberger (C.S.I.) as the Internal Affairs official who’s trying to remove the boys from the case, and Jo Pantoliano (The Matrix) as the stressed-out, quick-witted, police captain, who’s willing to do just about anything to get the job done; also fare well, but there’s no denying that Bad Boys is Will Smith’s movie, as, while playing Mike Lowery, he exhibits all the charm, wit, and talent, that has made him so popular ever since.

Being produced by Don Simpson (The Rock) and Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean), and directed by Michael Bay (Transformers), Bad Boys also turned out to be a very well shot, stylish looking film, that despite having a fairly redundant plot (that’s been tackled many times before, and seems slightly dated now, as it’s now been 15 years since the original release), is still pretty engaging, very fun, as funny as ever, and definitely worth a purchase; just as any action film should be.

Picture:

Fans of the film will be pleased to know that Bad Boys 1080p transfer, makes for the best video presentation, on any of release, of the title to date, but it however, not without its problems; as with a lot of mid 90’s action movies, Bad Boys has some visible print errors (which include a couple of minor scratches and halos), and a fairly hefty, and inconsistent, level of grain (dipping off to fairly light levels in some shots, then reappearing with a vengeance in others), as well as some rather faded (and overly warm) looking colours.

The faded and warm colours however, may be (at least in part) an intentional choice used to add to Michael Bay’s vision of the film (and the general Miami look), and whilst the fine detail might not quite match up to the same standard as some of the top-quality Blu-ray release, there’s no denying that it has vastly improved over anything that has come before, as has the film’s overall level of clarity; despite the crushing blacks, that often overwhelm the darker scenes, and swallow some of the finer shadow detail.

Overall, the picture quality is fairly average; there’s not all that many problems with it (and those that there are, are fairly negligible), but it fails to astound, and can’t really compete with some of the near-perfect, newer, transfers that the format has to offer; having said that, this is still the absolute best transfer that the movie has ever received, and one that should please (yet not stun) its many fans; provided they weren’t expecting a miracle.

Audio:

Bad Boys comes to Blu-ray with a DTS HD-MA 5.1 mix, that, like the picture, is better than it’s ever been before, but still doesn’t match up to the lossless tracks that accompany some more modern releases, and is not without its problems; as while the soundtrack is both big, bold, and loud, doesn’t have the exceptional level of clarity that home-media fanatics have become used to.

The film’s musical score (and various poppy songs) come across very well, and although the surrounds aren’t always active, when they do pipe up (mainly during the action scenes, or with some pretty generic ambient effects in the police station and a club), their inclusion is a welcome one; as it brings some well placed directional effects, and adequate pans, all mixed in against the powerful and weighty bass, and other effects (such as gunshots), that are quite loud, and well placed; just not entirely crisp.The overall volume leveling of the mix is spot-on, and while the dialogue is well anchored in the center channel, and always intelligible (despite the slang), it can sometimes feel out of synch with the video, having a tone that doesn’t completely match what’s happening on-screen; which like the rest of the mix’s problems, stem less from transfer issues, and arise mainly as a result of the film’s age, and the method in which it was shot, and how the audio was recorded.

It’s a decent mix, that’s by far the best Bad Boys has ever sounded, and perfectly adequate for a new release of a 15 year-old action movie; a loud and bold mix, that’s more of an expanded stereo track than a fully fledged surround mix, and isn’t crystal clear enough to satisfy the more hardened audiophiles, but should be more than adequate, and even relatively pleasing, to any of the film’s fans, and anyone who loves to rewatch these 90’s action flicks.

Extras:

As far as special features go, Bad Boys comes bundled with a selection of bonus material that is more than a number of other films from the same era receive, but still not totally extensive. It includes an audio commentary, featuring Michael Bay; which is actually rather interesting, as he’s very confident when talking about past accomplishments, and really goes into detail about the project evolved, and how the picture finally came together, and is a commentary that’s sure to entertain, inform, and fascinate, all of the movie’s fans; and a collection of music videos that are related to the film; the enjoyment of which will depend entirely on personal music preference.

There’s also a making of featurette (of sorts); entitled ‘Putting the Boom and Bang in Bad Boys’, which is fairly self-complimentary, and includes a number of clips from the movie, and mainly focusses on the film’s guns and explosions, explaining how some of the effects were set-up, and showing some detonations filmed on high-speed cameras; as well as the option to play the film with MovieIQ, or connect to Sony’s BD-Live.

An added retrospective interview or commentary featuring the two leads would have made for an interesting inclusion, but as it stands, the short collection of features included on the disc are informative, and worthy, inclusions (aside form the music videos, which offer little except simple padding), that should, at the very least, give fans a little bit of background into how the project developed, and how some of its effects were created; the basics of any solid selection.

The Bottom Line:

By now, most people know what they think of Bad Boys, and have done for some time, but for anyone who hasn’t seen it, Bad Boys is a solidly good, mid 90’s, action/comedy film that remains near the top of the list for best buddy-cop movies of all time; sure it looks slightly dated now (what 15 year-old film wouldn’t?), the plot is fairly generic, and the buddy-cop dynamic has been tackled dozens of times already, but when Bad Boys was released, the whole idea was still pretty fresh, the buddy dynamic worked in a way that hadn’t really been done before (having two like minded cops, rather than two polar opposites), and the whole film combined to created something that still has a massive number of fans today (how else could a $20 million action movie end up making $140 million plus at the Box Office, and have a third film planned for release, two decades after its original run?).

For a Blu-ray, the disc is little more than average; as the picture and audio quality both have their problems, and lack the crystal clear definition that other (newer) releases have received, and viewers have become used to watching; however, the video and sound both offer marked improvements over any home media offering that has come before, and as such there is no denying that, despite it’s problems, this is still the best that Bad Boys has ever looked or sounded.

The extras are also fairly informative (although not that extensive), and as the film showcases some good direction, decent action, and truly great comedy; as well as two proficient leads, who really propel the movie forward, a solid supporting cast, and some extremely quotable dialogue; there’s little more that anyone could ask from an action/comedy, and while this release may not be the astounding goalpost transfer that the fans have been hoping for, it’s still a big leap quality-wise, and contains a film that is definitely worth a blind buy for anyone that hasn’t seen it, and is still worth considering double-dipping for, if you already a DVD copy.

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