National Security

The first rule of making a buddy-buddy is to make sure that the buddy-buddy combination is sound. They can be similar (Bad Boys) or world’s apart (48 Hours) but they must have chemistry. Unfortunately that’s the first thing (of many) that National Security does wrong.

Let’s get the delicate intricacies of the plot out of the way first; Hank Rafferty (Steve Zahn) is a good, if a little over-zealous, cop. He follows the law down to the letter and tries to be a conscientious and dedicated officer on the LA Police force. Loud-mouthed and obnoxious Earl Montgomery (Martin Lawrence) is a cop wannabe, thrown out from police academy for unorthodox methods and unruly behaviour. 

These two individuals chance upon each other during a minor misdemeanour and after Earl falsely claims that Hank of police brutality, Hank lose his badge, his girl and lands in jail.

Zoom forward six months later, when Hank, freshly released from prison, takes up a job as a security guard. Unfortunately for Hank, Earl is also working for the same firm and both are none too impressed with the situation.

Although working as a security guard, Hank continues to investigate the murder of his former partner and this hunt becomes an obsession that not even Earl can distract him from. Earl on the other hand decides to ‘gate crash’ Hanks investigation as it is an opportunity to get involved in a real police case.

Together the two argue, fight and generally torment each other as they stumble to solve the investigation and along the way they uncover a smuggling ring that is more dangerous than either imagined.

National Security is surprisingly racist without being humorous and manages to misdirect any attempt to prevent falling into the same trap time and time again. Surprisingly there are some parts that counteract the racism that Earl spews such as Hank having a black girlfriend and an irate black motorist objecting to Hank’s attempts at procuring her vehicle unless he speaks to her with a respectful tone.

Hank, who could be justified if he was racist after all that he has been through, shows very little anger. Earl is played as a stereotypical black man who believes that all whites are evil and that he is owed something from everyone.

Racial issues aside, the film lacks charm, chemistry and humour that are essential for any buddy-buddy film.  Martin Lawrence needs to find some new material as his career has slumped and funny roles are eluding him. It’s like he’s trying to avoid using any of the talent he showed in the past. Hopefully Bad Boys 2 will help in getting him back on track. Steve Zahn is the only person who can come away from National Security with some remote semblance of dignity. He displays the charm that he normally brings to his films and has the few funny moments in the film.

Overall National Security is dull and fortifies many stereotypes in a uniquely immature and foolish way. A substandard film with very few surprises and which could have been passable if it was at least a little funny.

Score 4/10