National Security (2003)

(In theaters, January 2003) It’s no secret that I consider Martin Lawrence to be one of the most useless actors working today. While he certainly doesn’t help National Security (an early candidate for “worst-of-year” status), he’s far from being the only thing wrong with this project. Almost always feeling like the result of high-speed crash between two very different projects, National Security doesn’t take a long time to suck. From the first scene onward, the uneasy mix of police drama (complete with a gunned-down partner) and urban comedy (complete with an unending stream of oh-so-witty police brutality jokes) grates more than it amuses. Lawrence’s limitations are more painful than ever: His character is repulsive (Yet irresistible to women? Give me a break: he’s a toad!), never sympathetic, unbearable when attempting to be sensitive and simply loathsome. Not a good foundation for a buddy comedy, especially when buddy Steve Zahn is wasted in a role that seems to belong in another film. The script is variously clichéd, unconvincing, senseless and drawn-out. Yes, the girls are hot and the action has its moments, but the climax is generally unimpressive, and there is a limit to the number of times we can see a car crash through a plate window without becoming jaded. There’s no really gentle way to say it: National Security is a big dumb failure, a trash movie even by the standards of Martin Lawrence films.

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