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Review: 'Bad Boys' all fired up, no place to go

Watch it burn at your local theater

By Paul Clinton
CNN Reviewer

Bad Boys II
Martin Lawrence, Gabrielle Union and Will Smith in "Bad Boys II."

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(CNN) -- In 1995, two TV stars, Will Smith ("The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air") and Martin Lawrence ("Martin"), teamed up for "Bad Boys," helmed by first-time director Michael Bay and produced by the late Don Simpson and his partner, Jerry Bruckheimer.

Bay, Simpson and Bruckheimer never met an explosion they didn't love. The phrase "boys and their toys" comes to mind.

"Bad Boys" opened to mixed reviews, but its core audience of adolescent males loved every frame, and the film went on to make $140 million worldwide.

Eight years later, Smith is a major star, and Lawrence, who has had his share of personal problems, has made only a few memorable movies. Bay -- along with Bruckheimer -- gave audiences some of the most testosterone-packed movies of the '90s, including "The Rock" (1996) and "Armageddon" (1998). Just watching them puts hair on your chest.

With all that, "Bad Boys II" was a given. It just took awhile to get all the major players back in place.

Still working as Miami narcotics detectives, Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) are living much the same way as they were almost a decade ago. Burnett is still the solid family man, and Lowrey is still the wild rogue, living large on inherited money.

Joe Pantoliano still plays their long-suffering boss, Capt. Howard. And yes, there is still a sexy, beautiful woman involved with Lowrey -- this time around played by Gabrielle Union. Throw in a nerve-shattering soundtrack, car chases, huge explosions with bullets -- and one-liners -- flying, and you get the original film, supersized.

But there is one big difference: instead of breaking a heroin ring, Smith and Lawrence are after a group smuggling the designer drug Ecstasy. Now that's original. This sequel obviously has a whole new point of view and an entirely fresh take on the first film's premise.

Going and going and going ...

Bad Boys II
Peter Stormare plays a Russian mobster in "Bad Boys II."

Okay, fine, it's more of the same -- just more so. The first "Bad Boys" clocked in at two hours and six minutes; "Bad Boys II" rams on for two hours and 40 minutes, and could have ended two or three times but just kept going and going. You're definitely getting more bang for your buck; too bad most of the bangs look alike.

It's a tossup as to which piles up faster, dead bodies or wrecked cars -- although I must admit the body count includes numerous corpses tossed onto a freeway during a car chase, so I'm not sure they should be included. The gross-out factor, however, is huge. This film really earns its R rating.

Bay, it seems, could care less about character development -- or plot, for that matter -- but he has an astounding visual sense.

Still, just how many times can you smash up a car or blow up a building before it all becomes redundant? The answer to that question, my friend, is now playing at your local cineplex.

This summer slamfest is aimed at its target audience -- young males -- like a laser beam. It'll find them and they'll be fired up, but the rest of us will just feel burned.

"Bad Boys II" opens nationwide on Friday, July 18, and is rated R.

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