National Security (2003) starring Martin Lawrence, Steve Zahn, Colm Feore, Bill Duke, Eric Roberts, Timothy Busfield directed by Dennis Dugan Movie Review

National Security (2003)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn in National Security

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"National Security" is an action comedy and being such has the same problems which dog many other action comedies. What do I mean well in between delivering some routine action and equally routine humour there isn't really a decent storyline to drive it forwards. Of course by being an action comedy you don't expect "National Security" to have something original but the weak storyline delivered doesn't do enough to stop it from ending up just a series of gags and action with only a few scenes being truly funny. But because "National Security" has the same issues as so many action comedies it is no better or worse than these others, just another middle of the road movie which will appeal to some more than others.

Earl Montgomery (Martin Lawrence - Life) has always wanted to be a cop but his wise mouth and over zealousness sees him booted out of training and into the path of L.A. cop Hank Rafferty (Steve Zahn - Riding in Cars with Boys) who sees him trying to get into a car and a minor altercation gets blown out of all proportion with Hank being booted off of the force on a charge of police brutality. But a few months on from their first meeting Earl and Hank, both now working as security guards, find themselves joining forces to try and bust a sophisticated smuggling operation. But in doing so not only find themselves with a group of bad guys after them but also the police who put out arrest warrants on them.

Bill Duke as Lieutenant Washington in National Security

For a movie which is a smidgen short of 90 minutes "National Security" takes a surprisingly long time to get to the main story, which is Earl and Hank being the unlikeliest of partners. In the build up to this we learn that Earl is an over zealous would be cop, Hank has just lost his partner as they try to stop a factory robbery and thanks to a minor car incident Hank gets booted off the force when video makes it look he is dishing out police brutality on Earl. But as I said all of this takes up a surprising amount of time and whilst there are some genuinely funny moments such as Hank making sure he spends his 6 months inside in solitary much of it feels weak.

The irony is that having spent at least a third of the movie setting up that Hank and Earl don't get on what follows is both weak and routine as they become unlikely partners as Hank tries to track down who murdered his partner. It's all very routine, the sort of bog standard buddy crime cape with corrupt police that you can watch in a lot better movies. And as such you know that Hank and Earl will be dodging bullets not just from bad guys but from cops who are sent to hunt them down when they start sniffing around in business which doesn't concern them.

But as already mentioned you don't really watch "National Security" for an original storyline but for the action and comedy yet this is as unoriginal as the story. Chase scenes, bullet dodging antics and a few punches build up the majority of the action although there are a few rare moments of creativity, from Hank and Early commandeering a driving instructor's car with two steering wheels to a quite spectacular car stunt off of a bridge. And then there is the humour which mainly relies on Martin Lawrence delivering plenty of attitude and race jokes which whilst initially amusing ends up dull because that is all there is.

The most annoying things about "National Security" is that both Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn are good comedians but when they get such unoriginal material as this they end up coming across as weak. And whilst there are other recognizable faces such as Eric Roberts and Bill Duke in the movie because the focus is on the antagonistic relationship between Earl and Hank it does rely on Lawrence and Zahn to try and make some lame humour works.

What this all boils down to is that "National Security" is really just a run of the mill action comedy with an unoriginal storyline and plenty of unoriginal humour and action. There are a few moments which are genuinely good but they are just a few which means for the most of the time there is little to "National Security" which makes it feel any different to other action comedies.