Wisecracking cops Mike and Marcus are assigned to stop a drug lord from flooding Miami with deadly ecstasy. Complications arise when Marcus sister Syd, an undercover DEA who also happens to be romancing Mike, gets caught in the crossfire.
Whether the original Bad Boys merited a sequel is a moot point - with worldwide takings of over $180 million on a $23 million budget, it was inevitable.
However, a gap of eight years - an age in cinematic terms - means that the hardly indelible characters have fallen off the movie-going radar and need to make quite a noise to recapture an audience now more enamoured with CG, kung fu and fantasy than bullets and fireballs. While not wanting for bangs, as a film Bad Boys II makes more of a dull thud.
Smith and Lawrence are an agreeable comic pairing when given the right material and a reason for their incessant bickering - otherwise their sniping is irritating rather than hilarious.
The 'killer ecstasy' plot (which causes precisely one fatality and seems to do very nicely for Lawrence in one jarring comedy sequence) on which their antics are hung might have passed muster in the '80s, but seems a little 'so what?' now - like warning against the perils of CFCs.
The pair do have their moments (especially an amusing interrogation of Marcus' daughter's terrified date), but much of what's here is offensive (corpse tossing, anyone?) without being funny.
Smith in particular, though a master of the buddy comedy genre, could do with being pickier with his material, having starred in nothing consistently hilarious since the original Men In Black.
Even in the face of leaden material, Michael Bay still manages to pull some impressive directorial tricks out of the bag. The first car chase down a Miami highway beats the overloaded freeway free-for-all of The Matrix Reloaded hands down, and his use of the camera is occasionally dazzling. But for what?
Circling a shootout in one continuous tracking shot looks jaw-dropping, but when the villains have no apparent motive or relevance, you might as well watch it with the sound off.
By the time the film hits the two-hour mark, with a needless trip to Cuba and yet another car chase/shoot out, what was once invention has long since dulled into pointless repetition.
Theres some bad, meaning good, here; theres also a lot of plain bad. Frankly, theres just far too much of everything.