Martin Lawrence is a lot like Joan Rivers-he could be really funny if he weren't so damn annoying. But, like Ms. Rivers, the rub with Lawrence is that part of his charm is his obnoxious repartee. It's this unfortunate fact, and a mass of bad scripts, that have perpetually stalled each of the comedian's films, and National Security is no exception. Returning to familiar territory as a wannabe LAPD officer (this is the fourth time the comedian has played a boy in blue), Lawrence's latest action comedy rests solidly on its frenetic star's shoulders hitting when he does, which isn't often enough.
Working off of a script that puts a Lethal Weapon bent on Bad Boys, National Security pairs Lawrence with straight man, Steve Zahn (Joyride). Zahn supports as a supercop whose life falls apart after his partner is killed in the line of duty. Reeling from the event, Zahn's badge is stripped from him on the heels of a comical run-in with Lawrence that involves a bee, a nightstick, and a civilian's videotape. Put in jail after being caught on camera in what appears to be a Rodney King-type beating, Zahn endures six months in lock-up to come back to the street and get work as a security guard.
Determined to find the gunman who killed his partner, Zahn attempts to piece the crime together on his own. In so doing, he encounters Lawrence, who also works as a security guard. Eager to get a taste of "real" police work after repeatedly failing to make it onto "the force," Lawrence's fast-talking, idiot thrusts himself on Zahn, announcing he's the new partner. Together the two become an unlikely team as they go after a band of well-armed thieves, led by Eric Roberts (mysteriously donning a platinum blonde 'do), pulling off heists around the city.
From the shoot-out in a soda factory (see the glass, plastic, and carbonated liquids fly) to the car chase that lands Lawrence and Zahn in a slow-floating barge filled with garbage (thank god for cushy vessels), National Security is weighed down by the deluge of canned action scenes. With its police procedural plot feeling entirely procedural, the film suffers from its uninventive and tired script. But, whether your boiling points comes after watching the boys repeatedly outgun the crew of thugs with semi-automatics, the car chases which end with a slow-motion shot of a vehicle soaring through the air, or Eric Roberts' hair, National Secutiry will eventually get on your nerves.
And, although Zahn is a fine straight man to Lawrence's A.D.D. wind-up doll, there isn't enough humor to hide the film's idiotic attempts at action. In the end, Lawrence becomes grating all too soon with his empowered black man routine and his ridiculous catch phrase, "What the problem is?" To answer Mr. Lawrence, the problem is, well, everything.
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