Although it's enjoyable as a brainless diversion, National Security
is one of those forgettable entertainments that denies its own considerable potential. It's a police action comedy in the mould of Beverly Hills Cop
, tailored to the buddy-flick formula and laced with racial tensions of the post-Rodney King era. It's set in Los Angeles, where dedicated cop Hank (Steve Zahn) does jail time for allegedly beating Earl (Martin Lawrence), whose only real assailant was an overzealous bumblebee. As fate and lazy screenwriting would have it, the two adversaries reunite as security guards, teaming up to crack a team of violent smugglers led by bleached-blonde Eric Roberts (further proof that this movie's got nothing new to offer). Routine stunts distract from the comedy's mostly untapped resource: Lawrence pointedly riffs on racial profiling, and his prolific ad-libs play well against Zahn's by-the-book straight man. If their partnership had been allowed to develop more believably, National Security
might have been more than a blip on the box-office radar. --Jeff Shannon
Martin Lawrence stars in this action comedy directed by Dennis Dugan (Happy Gilmore
). The film concerns an unlikely partnership that forms between two LAPD rejects. Hank (Steve Zahn) is a straight-laced officer who is fired and imprisoned after supposedly brutalizing an innocent black man. It turns out the 'victim', Earl Montgomery (Lawrence), is actually just an angry citizen who, frustrated after being dismissed from the police academy due to his bad temper, seized the opportunity to take out his rage on the hapless Hank. But six months later, when Hank is released from prison, their paths cross once again when Nash (Eric Roberts), the man who killed Hank's partner, robs the warehouse where Earl is employed as a security guard. Angry that Nash refers to him using a racial slur, Earl attaches himself to Hank, who wants nothing to do with the trash-talker. But Earl won't back down, and the bickering pair begin to infiltrate a smuggling ring and the crooked police department that rejected them months before.