National Security

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Movie Review by Neil Ryan

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

Director: Dennis Dugan

In NATIONAL SECURITY Martin Lawrence stars as Earl, a security guard with aspirations to join the LAPD. Following a farcical take on the Rodney King ‘black guy beaten by white cops’ episode, Earl testifies against policeman Hank (Steve Zahn) who is subsequently thrown in prison for six months. Hank loses his badge and, upon release, he inadvertently takes a job working for the same security firm as Earl. Naturally this Oddball Pair™ become a team and use Unorthodox Methods™ to smash a smuggling operation.

This is lazy filmmaking par excellence. Lazy LAZY LAZY. Just as films involving animals have members of animal welfare groups on set to ensure that no harm comes to the non-humans, I think films like NATIONAL SECURITY have originality inspectors in the crew to ensure that nothing novel or remotely resembling an interesting idea is allowed to sneak in. I mean, they even have Eric Roberts cast as the sneering psychotic baddie – surely only his 103 rd appearance in such a role. As a comedy it’s unfunny: Lawrence’s interminable mugging and Zahn’s pop-eyed ball of fury (like Yosemite Sam without the bunny) conjure up about three humorous lines in ninety minutes. As an actioner it’s tired and second-rate: over-the-top shootouts and oft-seen boys-own car stunts.

I could whinge some more (for example, the blink-of-an-eye transformation of Earl from an incompetent security guard blessed with the efficacy of Sylvester the Cat, to an Uzi-toting action hero who is more akin to Sylvester Stallone). But you know what? If the filmmakers cannot be bothered then nor can I. And, for that matter, neither should you.

2 out of 6 stars