Saturday, April 19, 2014

National Security (2003) Review:

It's difficult when it comes to buddy cop genre films. For the most part, unless the crew has some creative writers or there is some other aspect to the film viewers have not experienced before, it'll be hard to impress film goers. This particular story is about as generic as they come - two security guards who are basically polar opposites in every respect are put into a situation where they must work together to solve their problems and gain the respect they desire. The only thing that distinguishes itself from other buddy cop films is that the two main characters aren't cops, their security guards. So the hilarity is supposed to be based on the fact that they're acting like cops but don't have the authority to do so. Does it work? Ummmmm not exactly.

At odds,....what a surprise
Our two main leads are Hank (Steve Zahn) and Earl (Martin Lawrence) who only encounter each other by chance. When in fact, their paths were bound to cross after Hank loses his original partner in a robbery bust - but they both didn't know that. Jay Scherick and David Ronn's writing aren't anything out of the ordinary from other projects before this. It also shows that their creativeness hasn't improved much since they've been in the industry with all the ratings they got after this movie and it shows. Hank and Earl go through the typical character arc of being at each others throats and then realizing they're living the same kind of life - almost. This kind of realizations comes more as a joke than reality, yet this helps the two characters connect. Is that really the strongest bond they have between each other - a joke?

The direction provided by Dennis Dugan, who has had his fair share of good and bad movies with audiences, at least keeps the flow of the movie consistent. If there's one word to call the pace of this movie, it’s that it's steady. It's not super fast nor is it terrifyingly slow. This would be ok if anything else really felt worth a watch more than the first time seeing it. Acting wise, Steve Zahn plays Hank straight like any guy would in his situation but it doesn't make him stand out much. I also swear that I've heard his character being called different names during the film - Henry, Nick....ummm do the actors know the characters name? Martin Lawrence on the other hand works at making his character stand out even though his character is just a forgettable as his partners. Saying "what the problem is?" consistently is not going to make the character sound any smarter or any funnier. It just means that Mr. Scherick and Mr. Ronn could not come up with a better phrase to say. Martin Lawrence can say much funnier things than that.

Bill Duke
Surprisingly, these aren't the only other recognizable actors that show up in this comedy. Colm Feore from John Woo's Face/Off (1997) and later in Thor (2011) heads the police department. Bill Duke, best known for having a role in both Schwarzenegger films Commando (1985) and Predator (1987) plays one of the chiefs along side Feore's role. Eric Roberts plays one of the villain's henchmen and like many other films, Roberts is just there. Heck, even Stephen Tobolowsky has a small role where he's some genius metal technician guy that can relay top secret information to our two main leads. Tell me how that makes any sense? That's one flaw that really stands out in the film.

Speaking of which, what was the villain's motivation for the stolen items from the robbery bust? It was explained what its use was for and that it costs a ton of money but the story never got to a point where the actual stolen property would be used in an application. Feels a bit underdeveloped. Other than that, the  comedy may only produce casual chuckles among viewers. It isn't even regularly funny. The special effects and action scenes are executed professionally but aren't anything unique. Even more shocking is that composer Randy Edelman produced the music to film but it is barely heard at all. Edelman can produce a quality score,...why has he been pushed aside? For shame.

With acting that only goes so far and writing that makes sense half the time, this buddy cop film aims for average and that's all it is. Even the addition of other sporadic cast members and a steady pace doesn't make it any more unique.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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