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National Security 2003
Description: Two mismatched safety guards are thrown together to bust a smuggling operation.
Released: 17 Jan 2003 Director: Dennis Dugan Writers: Jay Scherick, David Ronn Actors: Martin Lawrence, Steve Zahn, Colm Feore, Bill Duke Genres: Action, Comedy, Crime, Thriller
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National Security Reviews:

I enjoyed this tiny comedy much more than I expected; my main reason for seeing it was Roberts. Anyway, the movie works in an unpretentious way. It amused me—me and the person that I was watching the comedy with—as a movie that found its tone and channel. It is very fast—paced, and quite likable. It's very physical, good—natured and enjoyable; as a matter of fact, it is a humorous crime drama, a humorous cop movie (about corrupt cops, etc.).There are some very noticeable pretty women ("Lola" and Zahn's ex—girlfriend).Mari Morrow and Robinne Lee.Needless to tell that my original reason for watching it—Roberts—has a role so tiny that they should test anybody else. But maybe Roberts was cheaper than anybody else?Some perceived this flick as ...racist.I see it as politically incorrect,in a cheap but funny way--which is good.


Earl Montgomery is a cop wannabe who can't receive past the academy into the force. Hank Rafferty is a true cop who is emotionally on edge having seen the murder of his partner by a gang raiding a warehouse. When the two receive involved in a minor roadside traffic stop, Earl claims Hank beat him and gets him thrown off the force. Hank takes up a job as a safety guard and sets out to search the gang that killed his partner. He finds them in a warehouse protected by Earl (also actually a safety guard) and the two reluctantly squad up to go after the gang. However when they steal the gang's merchandise they search themselves hunted by both the gang and the cops.Although I like to think of myself as having reasonably nice taste – I do search Martin Lawrence funny. I don't know why but many of his movies just create me laugh even though I feel like I shouldn't ! However this movie is the newest exception to that. I saw the trailer and thought that it might be worth a stab – wrong! The plot is a shambles of coincidence and plot holes – where there is a doubt they simply have a large gun fight. There is no true tension to the plot as it is so very loose – even at the end you'll struggle to know much about the plot outside of the two central characters.The action scenes create the A-Team look realistic and tense – they are simply tonnes of bullets flying everywhere before the terrible guys are dispatched with one shot! This sucks any excitement or tension out of them and only leaves you with lots of noise that just feels pointless in the extreme. In that method they reflect the wider plot I guess. Sadly though, the terrible action and terrible plot is by no means the worst part of this film.Easily the worst part of this movie is the fact that 99% of the `jokes' are based on race – in particular Martin Lawrence's comments which are either a) laments on the victimisation of his race or b) reverse-racism remarks that border on the offensive and would certainly never be allowed to pass if the lines had been given to his white co-star. The victimisation things are simply not funny and merely create the lead look like he has an enormous chip on his shoulder about his colour – maybe 2 or 3 remarks along these lines would have worked but to have nearly each line based on this is simply overkill and it quickly gets tiresome. Another remarks I simply found offensive – I'm sorry, I know this is meant to be a comedy but I found them bigoted in the extreme. What makes it worse is the fact that the movie plays Earl as a character and never shows him to change his method or his opinion – hence it validates what he says. For example to have a hero state that he is vs interracial relationships between white boys and black girls (and never take it back) is simply offensive – as I (a white man) sat with my wife of Nigerian-descent I felt very uncomfortable that anyone would let such insulting dialogue to be part of a film. Even if you think I am making a large deal out of nothing – just imagine this entire movie if even half of Earl's dialogue had been told by Hank – there would simply have been an outcry!To create the offensive material worse – it is rarely funny. I don't know what Lawrence is up to. This summer he has the possibility to kick begin his large league career again in Terrible Men 2 where he'll receive support from Smith and Union – but this is a large leap back – pandering to an audience that may search it funny because they too have a chip on their shoulder about race. I usually search his mugging and telling `yo ass' or `and sh*t' after each sentence funny but here the chip on his hero could simply obliterates everything else. Zahn is terrible – I have not seen him in a powerful role but this gotta be a step backwards even by his standards – he suffers at the hands of racist remarks and comes off badly – even his relationship with Denise is played for laughs as the writers expected the audience to search it a joke that Hank should land with a `fine sista' like that, it even goes so far as to have Denise admire Earl's penis!! In fairness Robinne Lee (Denise) is superb and it is nice to see her in something again after only seeing her in Hav Plenty. God knows why Eric Roberts is in it – he has nothing to do and his wig just looked stupid, likewise Bill Duke is only there for the dirty looks.Overall I play Lawrence comedies even though many are silly. Here the jokes are nearly all based on race or reverse-racism and after the first 3 time they receive increasingly unfunny and tired. At greatest this movie is lame and barely amusing, at worst it is simply bigoted (regardless of what colour the hero is – bigotry is bigotry) and will be offensive to anyone who tries to receive past the problems of race and racism in their everyday lives.


I usually don't like Martin Lawrence and I search his anti-white humor to be quite offensive as well as his string of terrible movies. But compared to his another film of 2003 (that would be the shockingly terrible Terrible Men II), National Safety is a rather easy-going and light-hearted cop comedy flick with quite a several nice laughs. A lot of them, surprisingly, coming from Lawrence himself.Hank Rafferty (Steve Zahn)is a cop who is unfairly thrown in jail for apparently beating a black suspect (Lawrence) who just got kicked out of Police Academy. With his career in tatters he emerges from the slammer with only one job occasion available; a lowly guard for a lowly safety company. Determined to follow up on the large situation he was involved with before serving time, he crosses the path of fellow safety guard Earl Montgomery (Lawrence again) and the two reignite their old conflict.The old love/hate buddy thing may be old and the plot may be silly but it's a nice excuse for loads of action set-pieces and humor. The potentially risky comedy of black versus white never becomes offensive and is handled with such lightness that it never becomes an issue. Both boys have their failings and gifts and are as equal as every other. You really do feel a nice partnership between them despite their arguing and fights.Give National Safety a try. It's slick and fast-moving and is a helluva lot better than Terrible Men II. You'll probably be surprised at how funny Martin Lawrence is. I was.The DVD is in nice looking 1.85:1 widescreen with cute nice Dolby 5.1 sound. The scenes where Lawrence uses his automatic pistol really package a massive punch in the .1 LFE channel. The usual deleted scenes and commentary are included on the DVD but I was surprised the extended ending wasn't included in the film. It would have been better with it.



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