National Security

National Security


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

There was a period when Eddie Murphy was impossible to watch. His arrogant Beverly Hills Cop persona had taken over and only the diehard fans stayed loyal. Martin Lawrence has always been in Eddie's shadow and now he's becoming impossible to watch as well, which is sad because National Security is a lot of fun, thanks to Steve Zahn and a pacy script.

Lawrence has a running joke. He's used it before in other movies. It's about having dark skin - you're doing that because I'm black, or you're giving him an easy deal because he's white. Chip-on-the-shoulder humour can become monotonous. It does here, but luckily there's other stuff going on, like car stunts and Police Academy style wackiness.

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Zahn is a Los Angeles cop called Hank. He's square like a box and walks with his arms out and has a bathbrush 'tache that covers half his face. He acts with his eyes and often they are daggers.

Lawrence wants to be a cop, but fails the training course after a spectacular car chase mishap. He is called Earl and what Earl likes are girls and white guys getting their comeuppance, which happens when Hank tries to arrest him for stealing his own car. Because of an interfering bee, it looks from the outside that Hank is beating Earl to a pulp. He is charged with assault and battery and sent down for six months. When he comes out, he joins a security firm, where Earl works and, of course, they meet and become involved in hunting a gang of thieves who killed Hank's partner in a warehouse heist earlier.

As a double act, they have the chemistry. Hank hates Earl for being responsible for his jail sentence. Earl has no time for Hank because he's a stupid white man. Forced to become partners in the ultimate chase, a friendship forms and for once it's too acidic to be considered sentimental.

The action is packed and the gags keep coming. Lawrence insists on making faces and being silly, while Zahn plays it straight and is infinitely funnier. The movie is off the production line, as formulaic as you like, but there's something about these two that feels familiar.

You learn to like Lawrence and love Zahn. Almost.

Reviewed on: 19 Mar 2003
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National Security packshot
Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn are mismatched security guards on the trail of killers.
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Director: Dennis Dugan

Writer: Jay Scherick, David Ronn

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

Year: 2003

Runtime: 88 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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