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National Security
2003 - PG-13 - 88 Mins.
Director: Dennis Dugan
Producer: Michael Green, Robert F. Newmyer and Jeffrey Silver
Written By: Jay Scherick and David Ronn
Starring: Steve Zahn, Martin Lawrence, Colm Feore, Bill Duke and Eric Roberts
Review by: Bill King
Official Site:

Look, there's a better movie over there.
The moment "National Security" goes bad comes when Martin Lawrence steps onscreen. His character is absolutely irritating and his performance alone ruins the movie and whatever potential it had. Director Dennis Dugan apparently thinks that he can crank out a good movie by allowing Lawrence to run wild, but as with "Blue Streak," Lawrence's gifts are poorly used. If directed properly, he can be a comic force to be reckoned with (check out "Life"). Unfortunately, in this film, he's just a wind-up toy that never runs out of batteries.

Lawrence starts as Earl Montgomery, a Los Angeles Police Academy dropout who gets a job in warehouse security. Steve Zahn is Hank Rafferty (looking suspiciously like Jim Carey's character in "Me, Myself and Irene"), a member of the LAPD. His partner is killed in the line of duty. While driving around on patrol, he spots Montgomery, possibly breaking into a car. In actuality, Montgomery locked his keys in the ignition and is trying to squeeze his arm through the partially-closed window to reach them. Rafferty pulls over and questions Montgomery. Now, any intelligent person would simply explain his reason for reaching into a car window in such a manner, but not Montgomery. Instead, he says everything except the simple truth, and spouts off endless nonsense and accusations of racism.

A bumble bee flies nearby, and as Rafferty attempts to swat it, a casual observer records on his camcorder what appears to be Rafferty beating Montgomery. Rafferty loses his badge, spends time in prison and is finally released six months later. His new job is as a security man, and now he is determined to locate the guys who killed his partner. The clues lead to a warehouse, where Montgomery works, and after they are thrown together in an unlikely partnership, they team up to track down the crooks.

What makes "National Security" so distasteful is Lawrence's terrible dialogue and desperate attempts at humor. Throughout the film, he whines about being put down because he's black. Nearly all of his dialogue contains racial comments. The idea of two mismatched cops (or security guys or whatever) is unoriginal, although I did like the plot, and I wish more attention could have been paid to it. Unfortunately, this is a vehicle for Martin Lawrence, and as such he gets most of the screentime, which makes for a very unpleasant experience. His behavior is irritating, as we can see in the opening scenes in which he botches his training at the Police Academy by taunting his instructor. Based on his attitude, I find his desire to be a cop hard to believe.

"National Security" has few laughs and a bad script. Steve Zahn is competent as the cop who, through plot contrivances, is forced to be Montgomery's partner. He should walk away from this project unscathed, but as for Lawrence, I just hope something comes along that uses his talents in a much more positive manner.
Movie Guru Rating
Bland, boring, inept. Forgettable. Bland, boring, inept. Forgettable.
  1.5 out of 5 stars

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