Michael Bay brings his quick-cutting MTV style of filmmaking to the 101 Action Movies list as Will Smith and Martin Lawrence take to the streets of Miami as narcotics officers trying to stop an international drug ring.
The story is basic, with a little mistaken identity thrown in for fun, and a cast that looks like it’s having a good time, when the film was made, Lawrence and Smith were still TV stars, this showed they could carry a film. Smith is a natural as Mike Lowry, a single, well-off fella who also just happens to be partners with Marcus Burnett (is it a coincidence that the film is set in Miami, and Burnett was the cover name Sonny Crockett used in Miami Vice?), a married father of three who just wants a little quality time with his wife.
Add to this one witness to a murder, Julie (Tea Leoni), a vicious drug lord not above killing his own men to make a point, Fouchet (Tcheky Karyo), an IA investigator who wants to shut the entire department down, Sinclair (Marg Helgenberger), and a distraught and angry captain, Howard (Joe Pantoliano).
The laughs and the action sequences come fast and furious, and in a method that has become recognizable as Bay’s there seems to be no shot longer than five seconds and whip pans gets used a lot.
Despite that, this and another one coming up shortly on the list are my favorite efforts from Bay, and Will Smith is just awesome, making an easy and seemingly effortless leap to big screen leading man.
Using a driving score by Mark Mancina as well as a strong soundtrack, the film starts fast and moves faster, as our two heroes are involved in carjackings, explosions, gun fights, chases, and a witness who wants in-house protection.
The film is super-saturated in color, giving Miami a hazy golden feel to it, as characters rise into frame in slow motion, as Bay`s action sequences seem to dictate.
But all of Bay`s tricks and shots were still brand new when he made this film and we the audience ate it up, watching the film now, you can see how it has influenced the cinematic style of countless films that came after it. It works though, and Smith`s charisma, Lawrence`s attitude, and Leoni`s fire and appeal combine to an almost perfect balance (there are times when Lawrence tries my patience and some of the dialogue between the partners seems forced).
It was shortly after this that one of the film`s producers, Don Simpson, who along with Jerry Bruckheimer produced some of the biggest action hits of the 80s, died. Bruckheimer has since gone on to produce some monster hits, but in the 80s these two were the names to watch for.
Smith leapt to bigger and better things with Bad Boys and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air as his launching pad, and has always been a favorite of mine, it`d be pretty sweet to see him in an all out actioner again.
What do you think?