Here is a sample of some of Martin Lawrence's dialogue from "National Security," a brainless movie shamefully written by Jay Scherick and David Ronn:
"Man I'm cold, I can see the light. Even the light is white!"
"You think I'm stealing the car because I'm black."
"Even the black dude is in on it!"
"I didn't say I don't condone interracial dating. I don't condone it when the man is white."
"You're just saying that because I'm black."
"You just lost your job, got out of prison, and your girlfriend walked out on you it. Face it, you're black!"
"…You get this growing up in the projects."
I can usually laugh at stupid movies just because they're so horrible, but I couldn't do that while
watching "National Security." It's supposed to be a comedy, but every joke is racist and tastelessly laced with Rodney King references. But most importantly, the jokes aren't funny.
The movie opens with Hank (Steve Zahn) and his partner investigating a possible crime scene. Events not worth mentioning lead to his partner's death, and now Hank is fumed. We now cut to a different scene where Earl (Martin Lawrence)is going through police training at the academy. One of the obstacles is to shoot cardboard bandits with guns (do real cops do this in training?) while not hitting the innocent bystanders. Earl sees five figures and shoots the two on the left and the two on the right. Why didn't he shoot the middle one? Because the middle target is black and Earl justified the suspect's innocence for being "surrounded by four white dudes with guns." This comical gag worked in "Men in Black." It makes "National Security" look filthy.
Earl gets kicked out of the academy, which is pretty generous if you consider that he should have been arrested for pointlessly blowing up a police car. He's angry and it becomes worse when he realizes he locked his keys in the car. While sticking his arm through the cracked window, Hank spots him and gets out of his patrol car to question a possible burglar. Earl is furious and immediately shouts off a line (the second quote from the top of the review) and gets into a verbal fight with Hank. Now comes a bee that tries to sting one of the two men so Hank tries to swat it with his nightstick. A bystander is recording the innocent, and it is used against Hank in a hate-crime trial that lands him in jail for six months after being convicted for beating a black man.
Knowing that he can't be a cop (because he's too stupid and hates white people), Earl becomes a security guard. When Hank gets out of prison, he knows he can't be a cop anymore (because he was falsely convicted of beating a black man who shows no bruises or facial deformity), so he becomes a security guard. Still fueled over his partner's death, Hank decides to track down the killers despite not having the authority to do so, and Earl eventually becomes his partner. Please don't ask me to explain any more of the plot.
Ok, fine! I'll painfully recall some more of the plot details. I've told you that that Hank is upset by his partner's death and won't stop until he catches the killers. The villains, in more detail, are precious-metal thieves who are transporting illegal titanium around in big white vans and huge trucks. Dirty cops are involved, and it will take the help of Earl to solve the case. But Hank doesn't like Earl. That doesn't seem too crazy, because it was Earl who landed Hank in jail for six months and is the reason why he is just a security guard. Because Hank was in jail, his girlfriend left him. It is unfortunate that I have to tell you that she's black, but I do and here's why. Now out of prison and as a security guard, his partner Earl agrees to visit the girlfriend and to confess that he wasn't really beaten. But when he learns she's black, he tells her that is in fact he was beaten. Refer to the fourth quote from the top as to why Earl decided not to help out.
"National Security" is the worst movie I've seen in a long time. It's so stupid, that I still give it an 'F' without considering the ridiculous plot. The acting is decent from Zahn, goofy from Lawrence, but ridiculous from everyone else. There's a scene where Hank and Earl stop a car in mid-traffic (no, not the scene from the trailer) and force the occupiers out. As the car slows, you can clearly see the kid driving with his mouth open and laughing. Who smiles when from out-of-nowhere, a guy with a gun forces you out of your car? Maybe director Dennis Dugan didn't catch it, but that's only one of many problems that he must have not seen. During slow motion shots, you can clearly make the distinction between the actors and the stunt doubles. The actors wear long sleeved uniforms while the doubles wear short sleeves.
Good guys become bad guys, only to switch again to the good side without a single explanation as to why a few moments ago, this guy was shooting at Hank and Earl, and then was shooting with them in the following scene. I never thought the action part of a movie could be worse than they comedy side when there is no comedy. Guns fire, but no bullet holes or blood corroborates the flopping bodies. PG-13 or not, the choreography couldn't have been less convincing.
I was ready to walk out when there was ten minutes left, only I remembered that it's a personal rule of mine never to walk out of movies. It's a good thing I stuck around, because in the next scene, just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, Hank and Earl are running under a bridge that is rigged with fuel tanks. Yes, the bridge is rigged with fuel tanks that explode when bullets him them. But big silver fuel drums aren't the only things that appear from out of nowhere. During the final showdown, Earl is struggling with the main villain on a small platform on a cliff over the ocean. That scene must have been shot on 12 different locations because the ground changes shape and consistency after every camera cut. Sometimes it's a square block sitting on a dirt mound, other times it is a chunk of smooth rock, and sometimes it's a piece of rock with nails protruding from the sides.
At one point, Earl is hanging off the cliff for his life. The camera then shows the villain's legs standing on the platform, which are tripped off the platform when Earl grabs him. The camera never shows the third arm Earl uses to hang onto the rock. While all this is happening, Hank desperately looks for something he can use to help his partner out. He looks left, there's nothing, he looks right, and there's a construction crane with keys in in the ignition just waiting for Hank to use it.
The movie is unrealistic and silly beyond belief. I lost count near the end, but there are more than 20 racially insensitive comments and not one of them is funny. At least throw in a little fresh humor to dilute the racial comments, but audiences won't be so lucky. In this movie, Hank got sent to prison for beating a black man, but when he and Earl stole a police car, they faced no punishment. When they killed the bad guys with their private guns as security guards, they faced no punishment. Only once did I see them work as actual security guards, for the rest of the time they played rogue cops. This is the type of movie where it doesn't matter that Hank and Earl never do their real security jobs, because employers don't exist in this screenplay, so they can never be fired. If I were asked, while walking out of the theater, why I didn't like "National Security," it would only have been appropriate to stay on the theme and respond, "because I am white."