Bad Boys is an '80s buddy-cop movie dressed up in slicker, pricier '90s hyper-style. The glossy cinematic calling card for director Michael Bay and then-TV-stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, Bad Boys employs extreme-angle, color-corrected, digitally sweetened uber-cinematography (with no particular rhyme or reason to any given effect) to serve Bay's testosterone-pumped vision of quick-cut, orgiastic action. With Bay, even the dialogue scenes are shot like action scenes, and in a way, they are, the gag being that the bickering of Smith and Lawrence somehow always saves the day.
Smith plays rich-kid "player" and Miami cop Mike Lowrey, and Lawrence plays his family-man partner Marcus Burnett, a mad-sack who isn't "getting any" at home. They're narcotics cops, so the plot has something to do with their pursuit of drug dealer played (with large dollops of Euro menace) by Tchéky Karyo. Attractive good girl Julie Mott (Téa Leoni) witnesses a drug-related shooting, so their short-tempered captain (Joe Pantoliano) throws them a pointless farcical complication: the available Burnett must switch roles with the temporarily missing-in-action Lowrey to bring in the nervous witness. Since Bad Boys is sort of like Lethal Weapon 2 (why bother making a subtler first movie?), Pantoliano makes a fine Pesci substitute. The "Bad Boys" (who like to sing the infamous Cops theme song to pump up) must protect the girl and bring the bad guys down, preferably with lots of dollys, pans, zooms, helicopter shots, cranes, and slo-mo.
Both leads pull off athletic stunts and spicy banter, but the insensible and insensitive script (including a dismissal of strong women and a gratuitous Middle-Eastern Mini-mart caricature) focuses on noisy mayhem and a slew of pop culture references masquerading as one-liners. The movie has its violent ending two ways: typical of Hollywood's dumb attempts to send a message to kids that indulging violence is wrong while still allowing an audience to savor it. Bad Boys hardly skimps on the violence, pumping bullets and blowing up tanks of "extemely flammable" ether in two separate scenes (and then there's the propane...). Oh, well. Whatcha gonna do?