Plot: What’s it about?
After having just seen Martin Lawrence in “Blue Streak” only a few days ago I decided that I’d give “National Security” a try. Even for the uninitiated, I could tell that the filmmakers were trying to re-create the buddy cop atmosphere that “Blue Streak” so adamantly employed. Lawrence, it seems, had found some sort of niche about playing a rouge law enforcement agent of some sort. In “Blue Streak” he impersonates a police officer, in “Big Momma’s House” he was an undercover FBI agent and in “National Security” he’s, well, a security guard and a LAPD reject. This begs the question “how much can audiences handle?” Its one thing for an actor to be typecast as a certain character, but for the same actor to play essentially the same role in a variety of movies is a bit risky. Granted Kate Hudson has a lock on the “romantic comedy” market and is obviously trying to become the Meg Ryan of her generation but with successes like “Blue Streak” and “Big Momma’s House” under his belt if it ain’t broke why fix it?
Lawrence plays Earl Montgomery, a down on his luck man who’s just been expelled from the LAPD police academy. He’s locked his keys in the car and officer Hank Rafferty (Steve Zahn) thinks that Earl is attempting to steal a car. The two get into an altercation and a mysterious bumblebee give the appearance that Rafferty is beating Montgomery. Rafferty does six months and is released from the force, but his motivation is trying to find the bad guys who killed his partner (Timothy Busfield) in a shootout. As fate would have it, Earl and Hank meet up and both are now working as security guards. Opposites do attract and they eventually working on the same case and are looking for the same crooks (led by Eric Roberts’ “Nash”). Will the two get their man or will they kill each other in the process?
After having seen “National Security” I can say that it wasn’t an entirely bad movie, though I have to admit I like “Blue Streak” a bit better. I’m a big fan of Steve Zahn as well though I prefer his usual “stoner” shtick over his straight arrow portrayal of a police officer here. The film mixes enough action and comedy to really not offend anyone and though there are some mixed messages here, it’s really all about the fun, right? Director Dennis Dugan helmed one of my personal favorite movies with “Happy Gilmore” but it’s quite obvious the same charm isn’t present here. Suffice it to say, to each his own but you’ll probably get a very “been there, done that” feeling with this film as I did.
Video: How does it look?
“National Security” is presented in an above average 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer that leaves a little to the imagination. I’d never seen the film before, so I don’t really have a basis for comparison, though I will admit that some of the scenes looked a bit dirty with some noticeable grain on the print. Couple that with some other scenes that look absolutely spectacular and truly worthy of a Blu-ray title. I think as we see more and more catalog titles emerge, we’ll see how well Blu-ray can present them and if it’s truly worth the “upgrade” from standard DVD to high definition. I don’t think viewers will be disappointed, but there’s room for improvement here, for sure.
Audio: How does it sound?
As with “Blue Streak”, this Dolby TrueHD is an updated version of the original Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that appeared on the standard DVD. Dialogue is very clean and clear and we do get a few scenes that really sound fairly good. The drawback is that those scenes are few and far between as most of the film is dialogue-driven. A majority of the action is limited to the front stage which gives us limited range. It’s not all bad, though. Like the video, the audio serves its purpose but there’s certainly room for improvement.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This seems to be a pretty standard Blu-ray offering with a fairly insightful director’s commentary with director Dennis Dugan who gives us his take on the film, working with Lawrence and some details about the shoot. A music video, some deleted scenes are also shown as is an alternate ending (which isn’t too alternate, I might add).