|'Bay seems almost desperate to throw things at his target audience (presumably young and male) that he thinks they might like'|
Mark Kermode talks about Michael Bay as being a director with a 'pornographic aesthetic', something which I cannot profess to have noticed before Kermode brought it up: there is little pornographic about The Rock, I would argue, for example.
In the case of Bad Boys II though, and I'm sure of many more films in the Bay oeuvre, it is a film impossible to watch without those words ringing in your ears. The most obvious example is a scene in a club, with drug dealer Alexi (Peter Stormare) perched on high and Bay's camera glued to the floor, desperately trying to get a peek up the skirt of a range of cavorting dancers. It's perverted and near-pornographic in a really quite bizarre sense: if Bay really wanted his film to ogle naked women he has the power to make it do so. This uncomfortable in-between area suggests that the director himself is slightly ashamed of what he is doing and not quite brave enough to put his perversions front and centre. The viewer is forced to share his awkward peeping.
That piece of 'interest' out of the way, Bad Boys II proves to be neither Bay's best nor his worst offering. Bay is a director at his best when he has a genuine maverick comedic presence to counter some of the straight-faced seriousness he lends to material which deserves anything but: think loud Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery's wit in The Rock, or Will Smith in the first Bad Boys, films made when Bay wasn't taking himself so seriously.
The good news for Bad Boys II is that Smith and on-screen partner Martin Lawrence are back with a script that encourages their comic tendencies and allows them do pretty much what they did for the entirety of the first film. Smith is charming, Lawrence is a bumbling semi-Cop with a perma-pissed off wife (Theresa Randle). It works for a time.
Somehow though there's just not as much pizazz as the first film and Bay seems almost desperate to throw things at his target audience (presumably young and male) that he thinks they might like. The opening ten minutes includes TNT, Henry Rollins and a selection of ladies labelled as 'bitches'. Smith and Lawrence's boss, Joe Pantoliano, gets an increased shouty presence but again, unlike Bad Boys, his lines just aren't that funny. Two impressive and kinetic set pieces (the mental finale and a freeway chase) seem to go on forever, as if Bay thinks we'll never want to part from the images they show. It leaves Bad Boys II caught in a strange place: the elements are here that are present when Bay makes good films but somehow, he's too fixated on other things to pull them all together correctly.
Bad Boys II was available on Sky Go.