Criticism

National Security

national-security

Martin Lawrence’s highly publicized run-ins with the law – he’s been arrested for battery and gun possession and once had to be subdued by cops after he ran screaming into a busy Los Angeles intersection – have left him with a serious grudge against the police force. Or so it would appear, judging by the brutal assault on law enforcement that constitutes much of National Security.

Then again, maybe he simply thought nonstop jokes about corrupt and incompetent cops were funny, just as he seems to assume that overt racism is a solid foundation upon which to build a buddy comedy. Granted, he isn’t alone in his blame; screenwriters Jay Scherick and David Ronn – who also foisted Serving Sara on an undeserving world – share responsibility. But with Lawrence’s name above the title, this stink bomb belongs to him.

The flimsy plot has something to do with a top-secret space metal that’s impossible to melt or destroy, but which has somehow been stolen, melted down, and converted into beer kegs for smuggling. But the film’s real raison d’etre is to allow Lawrence, as an incompetent security guard named Earl Montgomery, to unleash a flood of racist sentiments, which he does from the opening scene to the closing credits. Many of his slurs are directed at Hank Rafferty (Steve Zahn), a hapless police officer whom Earl falsely accuses of viciously beating him. That Hank consequently loses his job and is sent to prison causes Earl no remorse; incredibly, he believes Hank owes him an apology.

Lawrence was once a comedic force to be reckoned with, but it looks like he’s lost his touch. There’s now a menace to his idiotic antics that’s downright unsettling. Perhaps he thinks someone will find humor in this incessant tirade against “the man.” Hopefully, intelligent moviegoers will prove him wrong.

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