NATIONAL SECURITY’s paper thin plot, utility shoot outs and assorted car chases would not have amounted to much of anything if it hadn’t been for the effective chemistry, and a candid new look at race relations brought to the surface by this odd couple of law enforcement which, race aside, turn out to have a lot more in common then they expected.
The story begins with a couple of Los Angeles police officers responding to a report of possible suspicious activity in a warehouse and running smack into the middle of an elaborate high tech heist. In the ensuing shootout, one of the officers gets killed, and his partner, Hank (played by Steve Zahn), feeling partially responsible, vows not to rest until he finds the killer.
A few days later Earl Montgomery (Martin Lawrence), an African American police academy trainee, finds himself booted from the academy for wearing his race a little too loudly on his sleeve and humiliating his instructor in the process, while wrecking one of the academy’s training cars. Compounding his troubles, Earl locks himself out of his car. Hank, who happens to be passing by on routine patrol, approaches Earl as he tries to break into his car. A heated war of words ensues between the two men and promptly escalates when Earl accuses Hank of racism. Just as Hank is about to arrest him, a bumblebee starts to buzz around the two men. Earl is highly allergic to bees and freaks out. Hank wildly swings his baton at the bee and tries to stomp it with his feet, but a bystander records his actions with a home video. The camera lens is partially blocked by Earl’s car, however. The resulting footage erroneously depicts Hank’s attempts to keep the bumblebee from stinging Earl as the actions of a white policeman beating an innocent black motorist. Hank is found guilty by an all black jury and loses his job with the police department, even going to jail for a short time. Hank also loses his black girlfriend, played by Robinne Lee.
Eventually, both Hank and Earl wind up working for the same security agency. Against their most fervent desires, they find themselves linked together as reluctant partners chasing a vicious band of smugglers while the entire L.A. police department chases them.
NATIONAL SECURITY does not have very much to endorse. It is laden with obscenities, vulgarities, gratuitous action violence, and some partial nudity. The plot is unimaginative and totally generic. On the other hand, this movie takes a surprisingly sharp and honest look at racial politics as they exist in America today, especially in the area of law enforcement, and the thorny issue of “profiling.”
Martin Lawrence plays an insufferable loudmouth hiding behind his race for his own selfish purposes, but he manages to present this controversial subject in a lighthearted, and occasionally truly funny, way. Using this skillful device, Martin Lawrence makes it much easier to raise some serious questions about racism without offending anyone, while working with a fragile vehicle at the same time. This is a feat not to be quickly dismissed.
Steve Zahn equally plays a strong role as the boring, but honest, and definitely non-racist white cop. The rest of the cast (Colm Feore, Eric Roberts, Bill Duke, and Robinne Lee) also do a credible job, but not much more.
The action scenes in NATIONAL SECURITY are strict formula. Some continuity problems are overlooked as well. In the end, it is really a shame that such an honest and funny approach to racial politics had to be wrapped up in such a foul-mouthed, flimsy package.
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SUMMARY: NATIONAL SECURITY is about a police academy trainee and police officer who, after losing their jobs, team up despite their racial differences to close the book on a vicious smuggling ring. Through all the formula gunfire, standard car chases and extensive foul language, there’s a disarmingly fresh look at racial politics that comically mocks politically correct conspiracy theories.
(Pa, B, LLL, VV, S, N, A, M) Pagan worldview but with politically correct views on race being mocked comically; about 75 obscenities (including one "f" word), three strong profanities and several vulgar terms for sex; action and comic action violence such as gunfire, car chases, people get shot, hand to hand combat, and policeman tries to swat bumblebee and smashes things; woman in underwear is playfully handcuffed for sex but none takes place and miscellaneous sexual humor in the dialogue; women in underwear, female cleavage and implied male nudity from the waist down; alcohol use; no smoking or drugs; and, stealing, smuggling, politically correct views on race are mocked, willingly false testimony, and policeman falsely sent to jail.
GENRE: Comedy/Action Adventure/Comic Thriller/Police Thriller