B is For… Bad Boys
Bad Boys is a movie that was highly recommended to me, and it was, shall we say, an experience. Of course, I went into it already not being a fan of director Michael Bay, and this film did not exactly endear him to me.
Frankly it proved my usual points regarding his films. It wasn’t quite explosionexplosionexplosionplotdialogueexplosionhelicopterexplodingbreastsgunfightexplosion, but that probably would have been more entertaining.
I did go in with an open mind. I do enjoy The Rock, and though science is clearly not applicable in Armageddon, that movie does have Bruce Willis and Steve Buscemi, and it’s hard to go wrong with them (even when the writing is incredibly stupid, they’ll do their darndest to make it work).
But Bad Boys. Yeah. Good for my site, at least.
The film opens on family man Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and womanizer Mike Lowery (Will Smith) arguing in Mike’s expensive Porsche. They talk for quite a while, until two guys try to carjack them. It’s then revealed that these guys—Marcus and Mike—are police officers.
It’s eventually revealed that these guys are actually narcotics detectives. Be afraid for Miami.
Anyway, a hundred million dollars worth of heroin is stolen from the evidence locker at the police station, and Marcus and Mike are assigned to get it back because it was initially their case. They don’t have a whole lot to go on, but they do find some clues and work from there. One of the leads they try to tap into is a friend of Mike’s named Max. She’s an escort, and brings her friend and roommate Julie (Téa Leoni) along on an outing. It turns out that Eddie —a former cop who hired her— took some of the heroin from the bust, which pisses off the guy who went to the trouble of stealing it. The guy—a long time later revealed to be named Fouchet—shoots Eddie and Max while Julie watches from the mezzanine (she’d gone to the bathroom).
Knowing Max only trusted her friend Mike Lowery, Julie insists that she be helped only by Mike. Unfortunately Mike is unavailable because he’s lying on the ground concussed after pursuing a lead alone, so Marcus pretends to be Mike. Hijinks ensue and Julie stays at Mike’s apartment with Marcus, and Mike stays with Marcus’s wife and family.
The chain of events to track down the killer/thief begins with Julie recognizing the mug shots of one of the guys working with Fouchet, leading to Mike and Marcus going to the club he owns, then there’s a ridiculous shootout and a more ridiculous chase scene, then the bad guys find Mike’s apartment and steal Julie, Mike and Marcus have to shake down another lead, and it all ends up—after another chase scene—at the airport.
There’s explosions and a shootout and then a final chase scene, and Fouchet winds up dead on the runway as Marcus, Mike, and Julie celebrate victory.
There’s more to the story than explained in my brief summary, but so much of it is infuriating that the summary will be longer than any of my discussions of the criteria, except for the especially infuriating parts.
I’m just going to stop here and jump right in, starting with…
A is for… Accents
Unsurprisingly, the villain Fouchet has an accent. The name is French but I can’t quite tell if the accent is French or not.
There’s a convenience store clerk that has a horrible stereotypical accent. He gets scared by Mike’s and Marcus’s service weapons, and he pulls his own gun on them and swears in a weird sort of broken English.
The drug lord purchasing the heroin from Fouchet seems to be Latin American.
B is for… Bad Guys
Fouchet is… alarmingly undeveloped and completely forgettable. He isn’t even referred to by name until over an hour into the movie, and he isn’t even in that scene. His lackeys get more screen time and actually do more than stand around trying to look threatening.
We’re introduced to him as he’s pulling off the heist to steal the heroin from the police station. A member of his crew is all excited to be the decoy cop in the heist, until Fouchet kills him and throws him out of the truck. The man is indeed the decoy, as the station empties as cops try to hunt the killer before realizing the victim is not really a cop. Mike actually comments on the villain being clever because he knew a full on manhunt would erupt if an actual cop had been killed.
Fouchet overall does seem smart, between the ease with which the heist took place, and his plans to cut the heroin with ether to make it more valuable by at least 100%. He’s also just so…blah. While I can answer “who is the villain?” I can’t really say much more than he wants to sell drugs. His only motivation is money and making sure nothing stands in his way, be it a witness, or thieving partner, or environmental conditions in his lab slowing down the timeline, and he has no qualms at all about killing whoever needs to be killed in his judgment.
Interestingly, when Fouchet realizes he’s done for, he tries to goad Mike into shooting him, and even presses his eye up against Mike’s pistol.
But yeah… Overall, blah. Even his henchmen are blah, and pretty stupid because multiple times they engage in shoot outs in the middle of public places. Granted Fouchet “silences” his shot of Max with only a pillow, which doesn’t silence it at all because the audio is of a full gunshot. Clearly there’s no sort of drug dealer stealth school.
C is for… Chases
Three chase scenes stand out. The first is as Mike, Marcus, and Julie are escaping Club Hell after Julie tries to shoot Fouchet. For some reason—even Julie asks, “Why are we running?”—they take the truck parked out front, which just so happens to be Fouchet’s truck. This truck, which looks like a bread truck but our heroes describe it as an ice cream truck, happens to contain a dozen or so barrels of ether. The three musketeers are then chased by two of Fouchet’s men in an old sports car. Rather than the bad guys, say, shooting the truck’s tires, or somehow forcing it off the road, or doing something to cause the flammable ether to ignite and toast the good guys, they fail just long enough for Mike to roll the barrels of ether at them and shoot it with his gun, engulfing them in flame.
Lots of flame because more barrels join the ones already toasting the car.
And it’s Michael Bay, so the more explosions the better.
The second chase is asinine. That’s right. How something as pure and beautiful as a chase scene can be corrupted into something laughable is managed only through complete and utter lack of attention to logic. The chase occurs after Fouchet and his goons show up at Mike’s apartment building and kidnap Julie. They drive off extremely recklessly, crashing into a bicycle, trash cans, and ultimately a parked car. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Of course they were driving recklessly, because Mike and Marcus were no doubt chasing them in their own vehicle.”
Mike was chasing them on foot. As in running after them. As in had the bad guys driven normally, even under the speed limit and obeying traffic rules, they’ve have gotten away. Instead they drive like they’re playing bumper cars, giving Mike half a chance to catch up to them.
They exit the car and the chase continues on foot through some buildings, including through a photo shoot and beauty parlor. Mike, who is wearing an unbuttoned button down shirt to add some sexy into the movie, continues to chase them. One of the bad guys actually fires his gun through the window of the beauty parlor at Mike, who dives to the floor. This gives the bad guys enough time to steal a cab. From somewhere, Marcus arrives on the scene and leaps on top of the cab. Again, rather than driving carefully the bad guys drive recklessly and crash, which causes Marcus to be thrown from the cab. Fortunately Mike, who’d been running in slow motion somewhere behind the cab, miraculously leaps from the left of the screen and grabs Marcus to pull him out of the way of the cab.
So, Mike seems to warp the space-time continuum by not only catching up with the cab by running in slow motion, he also comes at it from the side when he appeared to have been behind it.
The final chase occurs at the airport after Fouchet’s exchange is interrupted by the cops. Fouchet escapes from the flame engulfed hangar in his buyer’s Shelby Cobra, and Marcus takes the time to hop into Mike’s Porsche and then stop for Julie and Mike, and the three of them chase Fouchet down the runway. The road narrows and Marcus is able to catch up with Fouchet and bump him, causing him to crash.
D is for… Damsels
There are several damsels in Bad Boys.
Unfortunately they are all useless or shrewish.
The woman I thought was going to be the “damsel” because I didn’t pay enough attention to the opening credits is Maxine, a friend of Mike’s. She has a boyish name (it’s shortened to Max), and is a boxer, or at least works out in a gym. She’s seemingly introduced to be a love interest for Mike even though they’re currently friends. She’s an escort, which is ultimately her downfall because her job led her to Eddie and Fouchet, who shoots her. She’s pretty and seems fairly intelligent, and it’s rather unfortunate she gets killed brutally. She seemed like an interesting character, which is why it’s so upsetting to me she isn’t the main female character in the movie.
Instead we get her best friend/roommate, Julie, who is extremely, horribly, unbearably useless. She’s an unemployed photographer, which doesn’t seem at all relevant to the plot except to explain why she’s living with Max. Who must’ve made a lot of money because the apartment they share is huge and gorgeous.
I had to actually start an extra page of notes to keep track of all the stupid things Julie does in this movie, yet the viewer is supposed to not want her killed:
- When the bad guys spot her watching them kill Maxine, Julie of course runs upstairs rather than trying to find stairs going down. Though since this happens to everyone running from someone in a movie, I’m willing to overlook this. She’s just lucky the pool was there to break her fall.
- When hiding from her would-be killers, she hides in her own apartment, with the lights on. Her first instinct isn’t either to go to the police, get the hell outta Dodge, or at least hide in the dark. It’s to sit there, by herself, no bag packed, dogs wandering around, lights on. Yep.
- It’s never really explained why she refuses to be brought to the police station for protective custody. I understand that Max told her that if she were ever in trouble, she’d only ever trust Mike Lowery, but Julie doesn’t even know Mike. Did something happen in Julie’s past to cause her to fear the police, or being confined? In an already weak character, not explaining this massive issue is a major flaw. Except of course this flaw seems to be driving the plot.
- At one point she says, “I’m a major glitch.” I can only agree.
- When Mike and Marcus go to Club Hell to track one of Fouchet’s men (after Julie finally agreed to look at some mug shots and recognized one of the henchmen), she follows them. I understand wanting to take matters into her own hands. But not telling Mike and Marcus just puts all of them in danger.
- She has a gun and fires it at Fouchet. From a distance. Through a window. With one hand. And has never fired a gun before. I don’t know what the odds of her actually hitting him are, but I would say pretty darn small. Like less than a full percentage small.
- She actually says, as they’re escaping Club Hell after she botched their mission and the bad guys are chasing them, “You call this protective custody?” I know it’s supposed to be a joke, but considering their having to escape in a stolen vehicle is all her fault, and of course it’s not protective custody because she turned that down, the line just makes her sound whiny and even more needy. It makes me want to throw something at her.
- To try to develop her character, she’s given traits such as being against animal testing, and being a vegetarian. Which would be fine if she weren’t trying to not be killed. She just holds everything up. Stop distracting Marcus, and stop slowing down getting back to safety.
- For some horrible unknown reason she hits on Marcus (still thinking he’s Mike) by lying in bed with him dressed all scantily and showing her stocking clad legs. To manipulate him even further she tries to make him jealous by praising Mike (who she thinks is Marcus). It’s just… Gah. I can’t even.
- Theresa, Marcus’s wife, knocks on the door to Mike’s apartment and Julie doesn’t look through the peephole or ask who it is. Why is she even answering the door to Mike’s apartment?
- SHE LEAVES THE APARTMENT when the deception of who Mike and Marcus truly are is revealed. Protective custody only works when you’re actually in the custody of the people who are trying to protect you. Twit. So what if they lied? You’re alive, right?
That’s a whole page of notes right there on why Julie is a terrible female character.
But there are three other female characters with relevance to what’s going on:
Marcus’s wife is the stereotypical nagging wife who doesn’t accept her husband’s profession and its demands, and she also doesn’t listen to anything he says or ask for explanations. She makes him sleep on the couch, makes him feel bad for having to go to work, and chases him down at Mike’s. If she were more understanding, perhaps he wouldn’t have to lie about his whereabouts. For some reason she wears a really revealing shirt around the house, which is just weird for someone who’s so upset when she thinks her husband is cheating. Is she trying to hit on other men or make him jealous?
The secretary at the police station, or whatever she does, Francine, was connected to Eddie, the former cop, because they used to be involved. He blackmailed her to keep quiet. Had she not lied to Mike in the first place, all of the events of the movie might have been wrapped up more smoothly/quickly with fewer deaths.
The female police captain is constantly at odds with the male police captain who’s trying to organize Mike and Marcus. In another movie I don’t think this would warrant mention, but in a movie already filled with lousy female characters, I thought I’d mention it.
This also isn’t to say that the male characters were all perfect and wonderful. They certainly weren’t. But would it be too much to ask that of the five female characters, the interesting one isn’t the one killed in the first few scenes?
E is for… Explosions
Considering this was Michael Bay, there weren’t too many explosions. At least, no gratuitous ones.
There is the car chase scene with the ether getting ignited, which does of course turn the bad guys’ car crispy.
The ether in the hangar at the end is of course ignited.
A villain gets electrocuted and starts to spark.
The whole hangar goes up, which is of course completely expected considering the circumstances.
Perhaps Michael Bay had promise to not be known as the director who needlessly explodes things, but alas, he became typecast, so to speak.
F is for… Flashbacks
There are no flashbacks in Bad Boys; everything takes place in a few days and we don’t see inside anyone’s head.
G is for… Guns
Check out details at the IMFDB.
There are a lot of guns in Bad Boys, but nothing too crazy as far as types are considered.
Mike and Marcus have their service weapons, and the villains have their own handguns and an assault rifle thing they use in Julie’s apartment.
What stands out as far as guns are concerned is how poorly they are used:
- Fouchet attempts to silence the gun he uses to kill Max by putting a pillow over it. This doesn’t even muffle the sound effect used in the movie, let alone an actual gunshot in real life.
- The henchmen use a huge assault rifle when they try to kill Julie in her apartment, and the shootout spills over into the street as the bad guys shoot into some sort of café. No other cops get called onto the case after this? Maybe shootouts in the street are common in Miami.
- For some reason Mike and Marcus leave a gun with Julie. This leads to her almost getting them killed in Club Hell. Did they even ask if she knew how to use a gun?
- The convenience store scene didn’t seem to have a point except to allow more guns to be pulled so the camera could get some nice stationary close up shots of them.
- Many times people try to shoot two guns at once, one handgun in each hand. That can’t be productive.
- There’s a massive shootout in Mike’s apartment building as Fouchet kidnaps Julie when she runs away, and more shooting during the chase scene.
- Obviously the climax of the movie includes an even huger shootout in the hangar. Bullets fly everywhere.
H is for… Helicopters
Sadly there weren’t as many helicopters as I was expecting. Maybe the bad guy didn’t have the right connections.
There was, though, a police helicopter during the opening heist scene. …it was actually on the screen for thirty uninterrupted seconds, across different shots. 30. Seconds. Maybe it was just to provide a visual while the credits rolled—the next shot after the last of the helicopter proudly proclaimed Michael Bay as the director of the film—but it was a little tiresome, and this is coming from someone who loves watching helicopters do cool things in movies.
There’s also a news helicopter at one point, but it wasn’t particularly interesting.
I is for… Improvisation
There isn’t too much improvisation in Bad Boys, and all of it there is involves that pesky ether. Mike and Marcus use it to blow up the bad guys chasing them from Club Hell, and it’s used to blow up the hangar at the film’s climax.
J is for… Jumping Through Solid Objects
A lot of glass gets broken in the film. Maxine falls through a glass coffee table when she’s shot, Mike falls through a glass door at Maxine’s Madame’s place, and Marcus is pushed into a fish tank (which seems to break before he touches it). Honestly my concern was for the poor fish now flopping all over Club Hell.
K is for… Kill Count
Mike and Marcus don’t seem to make a lot of kills on camera until the end shootout, which is just a free-for-all. They do kill two of Fouchet’s top men during the escape/chase from Club Hell, but their goal wasn’t necessarily to kill versus just getting away from them and igniting the ether to do it.
L is for… Limitations
Mike and Marcus don’t seem to have any limitations other than their own incompetence. Mike is hindered a bit by his feelings for Max. Marcus not insisting on bringing Julie back to the police station led to all the violence happening in the film. Though I suppose Marcus’s wife is a limitation considering how screwed up she makes him. There’s also a timeframe limit—Mike and Marcus need to figure out what is going on before Fouchet sells the heroin in four days.
M is for… Motivation
Mike’s motivation is revenge for Max’s death. He and Marcus also want to save Julie, and of course get back the heroin and stop its sale.
Fouchet’s motivation is money. He wants to kill Julie because she witnessed him killing Max.
N is for… Negotiations
Mike and Marcus don’t seem to negotiate for anything. Yet Fouchet knows to use Julie as a hostage so Mike and Marcus don’t kill him.
At the end of the film Fouchet begs for Mike to kill him, which he eventually does. With a lot of bullets.
O is for… One Liners
Because Bad Boys is trying to be a buddy cop comedy, there are several one liners that attempt to be humorous.
The ubiquitous “I’ll be back” is uttered.
Mike: Now let’s hear one of those jokes, bitch. (said to the hijacker in the beginning who claims to be a comedian)
Mike: Why don’t you add some chimps, we can have a carnival. (after finding out Julie has been staying in his apartment with her dogs)
Mike: Everyone wants to be like Mike. (I think this had more of a punch in 1995)
Julie: This is protective custody? (the line that truly made me hate Julie, said during the escape from Club Hell)
Mike: Don’t ever say I wasn’t there for you.
Julie: This has been a shitty week.
Marcus: You forgot your boarding pass.
Some of the lines are funny, but some of it just sounds like Will Smith delivering lines; it’s hard for me to really distinguish here between Mike Lowery, James Edwards, and Captain Steve Hiller, though to be fair I’m much more familiar with those latter characters than Mike Lowery.
P is for… Profession
The opening scene establishes—painfully blatantly—that Mike and Marcus are police officers. It’s later clarified that they are narcotics detectives. It’s also easy to assume, as the film goes on, that Mike and Marcus did indeed buy their badges at that convenience store like the clerk suggests.
Mike and Marcus seem to be terrible cops, as much as the movie tries to tell us they’re good ones:
- Mike and Marcus argue constantly. Do real police detectives bicker like old married couples? If so, it’s a wonder any crime gets solved. They can’t agree on anything and fill a lot of potential crime solving time with badgering each other.
- When tracking down the ventilation company employee after the initial heist, Mike and Marcus do many stupid things:
- They enter without a warrant and without probable cause, meaning any evidence they collect will be inadmissible in court.
- They move the victim’s corpse and they touch everything including the corpse, which both disturbs the crime scene and gets their DNA all over everything, so the evidence is contaminated.
- Marcus doesn’t seem to know Mike’s apartment at all, which, considering how much time he must spend there assuming their relationship is solid enough for Mike to be considered a part of Marcus’s family, seems odd. Detectives are supposed to be observant.
- JoJo the tire salesman/former drug seller says he should put Mike and Marcus on Hard Copy, a show known for its use of scandal and sensationalism.
I’m not an expert on police procedure, but it’s pretty clear throughout the film that the movie should be called Bad Cops, not Bad Boys.
And good God, what are they wearing most of the time? They constantly look as if they’re going clubbing, not working on solving cases!
Q is for… Quagmire
There isn’t really ever a huge mess into which Mike and Marcus get themselves. Other than the lies leading to Julie’s kidnapping, everything kind of works out. They’re almost in a bind after Julie gets kidnapped and they don’t know what to do, but they’re never totally stuck.
R is for… Reality/Suspension of Disbelief
I can buy the drug theft, I can buy Julie not wanting official protection, I can buy the bad guys being utterly unsubtle when trying to shoot the witness.
I cannot buy detectives handling a corpse before homicide is called and does a proper evaluation of the crime scene. If they’d found Fouchet that night and brought him to court, the man would walk free.
S is for… Sidekicks
Because Bad Boys is a buddy movie, Mike and Marcus are each other’s sidekicks. Even though they don’t seem to like each other very much.
T is for… Technology
As ever during a heist, the criminals are able to intercept the security camera feed and loop it to hide their activity. One of the bad guys also has a laptop with the building’s schematics. Interestingly some sort of sled device on a winch (or something) is used to transport the thieves and the heroin.
Mike has Francine try to hack into the police database, with no luck. He and Marcus recruit a prisoner to hack into the database for them, and because he’s not lying to them, he can get in and find the connection between Francine and Eddie.
A cellphone is used to triangulate position.
U is for… Unexpected Romance
Other than Julie hitting on Marcus when she thinks he’s Mike, and then sort of hitting on Mike at the end of the movie, there isn’t any romance in the film at all.
I’m not sure if I could have handled that.
V is for… Vehicles as Weapons
Sadly there are fewer examples of vehicles being used as weapons than I guess I was hoping for. A garbage truck is driven into the hangar. A car is used to ignite ether. Marcus uses Mike’s Porsche to sideswipe Fouchet’s Cobra.
Nothing terribly exciting.
W is for… Winning
I think the viewer wins when the movie is over.
But, to summarize: the hangar explodes, killing or at least severely wounding the remaining criminals. Fouchet is driven off the road, so to speak. He and Mike converse, and then when he tries to shoot Mike, Mike shoots him. Many times. He’ll-have-to-fill-out-a-heck-of-a-lot-of-paperwork number of times.
Mike and Marcus are both injured, but they’re able to figuratively walk into the sunset with Julie tagging along behind.
Though I think all the evidence—the criminals, the heroin, the ether—is gone, so that’s kind of a letdown. Is there even a case anymore?
X is for… X-Rays, or Maybe You Should See a Doctor
The film ends with Marcus shot in the leg, and Mike shot in his police vest (which yes will protect him from a bullet, but the impact will still bruise). Marcus stumbles away from Mike and Julie. Mike also had a concussion earlier (when he fell through the glass door), but he still went to work.
Y is for… Yesterday’s Problem Becomes Today’s Problem
Francine’s fear of exposure led to a lot of the problems in the film. Had she never been involved with Eddie, or had she confessed earlier, a lot of death and trouble could have been avoided.
If Mike had been involved romantically with Max, maybe she never would have gone on that call to Eddie.
Z is for… Zone, In The
Neither Mike nor Marcus seem to be in any sort of private zone of contemplation and reflection. They work together and with other people in order to plan and figure out what to do. It’s not even clear what they’d’ve accomplished without their captain looking out for them.
So, that’s Bad Boys. I assume it’s obvious I was not impressed. I thought the characters were a mess and the story could probably have used another rewrite in order to make things flow less stupidly. Mike and Marcus obviously had a lot less leeway than a lot of other action movie protagonists because they’re basically following orders and aren’t allowed to go sort of lone wolf. They have each other and an entire police station helping them. Yet things still become confused. The female characters are horrible. I’m not sure anyone at all has character development; a proper coda might have helped, but as the movie ends there is no growth. Mike doesn’t stop womanizing. Marcus doesn’t have a happier home life. Julie is still useless. The villain is woefully poorly developed. I understand Bad Boys is supposed to be a buddy comedy, but there isn’t enough comedy for this to come across. One liners and attitude don’t make comedy by themselves when nothing about the circumstances around them is funny. The rest of the movie is too serious for the comedy to be center stage.
Interesting fact: the roles of the protagonists were originally written for Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz. Try picturing them in what the movie became.
Another thing: I want my action movies to have action. Drama. Suspense. Thrills. But Bad Boys had way too much talking. A talky movie in itself obviously isn’t a problem. His Girl Friday is a wonderfully entertaining and intentionally dialogue-heavy movie. But in Bad Boys scenes of nothing but talking really slowed down the pace. The scenes were Mike and Marcus arguing. Or Marcus and Julie arguing. Or Marcus and his wife arguing. The police captain arguing with Mike and Marcus. So. Much. Talking. The film was honestly a little hard to follow because a scene pertinent to the plot would happen, but then instead of building from there and moving forward, the film would stop for another scene of talking. Talking is fine, but there’s got to be a better way to film it than two people sitting there instead of stuff actually happening.
Bad Boys suffers from a poor script, poor direction, and lousy characters, though there are some funny moments and some decent action scenes.