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National Security /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Martin Lawrence, Steve Zahn, Bill Duke, Colm Feore, Eric Roberts 

Directed by: Dennis Dugan 

Produced by: Bobby Newmyer, Jeff Silver, Bobby Newmeyer, Robert Newmyer, Jeffrey Silver, Michael Green 

Written by: Jay Scherick, David Ronn 

Distributor: Columbia Pictures


Movie Image
Movie Image
Movie Image

     I wish that Hollywood would just stop making buddy-cop movies. As I watched National Security being projected onto the screen of a local theatre, dull memories of Men in Black II came to mind. The once hilarious genre, featuring one white cop and one black cop, has now become tiredly repetitive. But in National Security, the story is stupidly twisted. It doesnít feature two police officers, but two security guards pretending to be police officers. This is just another low-key, instantly forgettable comedy that satisfies only the dumbest of demographic teenage audiences. This style of flick has its moments, and we are mildly entertained while watching it. The problem that I have with National Security, though, is that we have nothing to reflect upon afterwards. After viewing comedies, like Undercover Brother and Austin Powers in Goldmember, we can think about the jokes and smile. This film, on the other hand, is missing those jokes.

     Martin Lawrence needs to find some new material. Similar to Eddie Murphy, his career has fallen into a deep, dark hole. Not one movie he has been in, since 2000ís Big Mommaís House, has been remotely funny. Lawrence has all of the traits that a comedian needs: a wacky and overstretched personality, the ability to manipulate his voice and facial expressions, and a laughable look. He has not been using these talents in recent years. Iím not sure whether comically pleasing scripts just havenít been rolling onto his desk, or he isnít picking the right ones. He was once funny as the bold, strong, and antiracist African American. But now that role is so incredibly worn-out, we donít even laugh at him once, during the entire duration of the film. When weíre watching one of one of his flicks, we donít sense that he has talent anymore. I didnít even enjoy his live comedy concert: RunTelDat, which supposedly exercised his true abilities as a comedian.

     National Security does have some superb visuals, however. During the many bogus chase scenes, which are pointlessly stupid, there are many well-done special effects. In its big-budget, Hollywood-driven self, there are some gun fights, car chases, and blow-upís that are very fun to watch. I enjoyed some of the action and adventure, that the poor writing doesnít get in the way of. There are some truly beautiful effects in this film, even though it wouldnít seem so. These are, of course, overshadowed by Lawrenceís big ego. I especially enjoyed two warehouse raids, which act as a jumping-off points for the plot. With more villains than a James Bond story, this definitely has some excellent staging, too. The stunts arenít cheesy, which surprises me. If this film had been more original, it couldíve worked. But, unfortunately, like most fabricated and artificial stories, National Security is just another face in the crowd.

     Letís assume that this film had a good script, and Lawrence took on his old comedic personality when acting. Would it have been better? I would think so, though I canít be entirely sure. Steve Zahn, who plays Lawrenceís fellow security guard, sleepwalks through his role. With the right script, just like Lawrence, Zahn has the ability to be very good. He has exhibited this talents through one of my favorite movies of 2001: Joy Ride. National Security will satisfy its target audience, but it definitely didnít meet my standards. This is another sloppy release from the New Year, and as it stands now, 2003 looks like itís going to be a very grim 365 days. When is the next time I will see a good movie? I hope soon.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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