WTF Happened to Bad Boys II?

Buckle up because we’re looking back on the action-packed sequel to Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s hit film in WTF Happened to Bad Boys II?

Last Updated on June 26, 2024

Is Bad Boys II Michael Bay’s best-worst movie? Is it the most entertaining, so-bad-its-good mainstream action movie ever made?

If the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results, then one could argue Michael Bay is downright certifiable. After all, who announces their directorial debut with a movie as bold and brash as Bad Boys and proceeds to repeat, nay, magnify the same screenwriting mistakes in the critically panned sequel Bad Boys II? Then again, does it even matter? Despite being released eight years after the original, Bad Boys II may have been eviscerated by critics but proved to be bulletproof among the moviegoing masses. Instead of taking precise measures to tighten the story and bolster the witty banter between Miami Narcotics officers Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, Bay doubled down on the explosive action set-pieces and visceral chase sequences. The bet paid off so well that the so-bad-it’s-good sequel outgrossed the original and spawned a TV sequel 15 years later. With Bad Boys Ride or Day set to roll into theater in June 2024, now’s the perfect time to look back, assess the damage, and try to comprehend What The F*ck Happened to Bad Boys II. Yup, the shit just got real!

In our previous Bad Boys video, emphasis was placed on the problematic screenplay that forced Bay to encourage lead actors Will Smith and Martin Lawrence to improvise most of their dialog on the spot. Bay went into his directorial debut with a flimsy script that continues to rear its ugly head while filming in Miami. Bad Boys became such a massive commercial success that the script issues became moot. The first film’s success instantly led to script work on Bad Boys II in 1995 and suffered the same problems the original had, leading to countless scribes, extensive rewrites, and long-term production delays. Bad Boys II was released eight years after the original, primarily due to the overcooked screenwriting process and amount of chefs in the kitchen, so to speak.

Following Bad Boys’ success, Columbia/Sony producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson announced plans to make a sequel set to film in 1996. Before Michael Bay was hired to reprise his directorial duties, writer/director Tim Dey was considered to make his feature film debut based on a Bad Boys II draft he wrote. However, top Columbia brass was unhappy with the script and tossed it out in 1997. Bruckheimer hired screenwriting duo Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who came up with a movie called Bad Around the World, involving Mike and Markus traveling to London to bring down a chemist with connections to a drug empire.

Bad Boys 2, Will Smith, Martin Lawrence

At one point, music video directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris were asked to direct Bad Boys II but turned it down before making the feature debut, Little Miss Sunshine in 2006. Once Dayton and Faris passed, married screenwriters Cormac and Marianne Wibberly were recruited by Jerry Bruckheimer Films to create a new story. Bruckheimer liked their story angle and the two retain a Story Only credit in the finished film.

By 2002, six years after Bad Boys II was originally planned to be filmed, Ron Shelton was hired to retool the script. In 2013, Shelton claimed he had never seen Bad Boys before getting the gig, and rented the movie on VHS at Blockbuster and fast-forwarded through the movie to get the gist before penning the sequel. Shelton also admitted that he’s never seen Bad Boys II. Shelton is responsible for Dan Marino’s cameo in the film and the plot involving Cuban drug smugglers and Russian mobsters operating in Miami.

If that wasn’t strange enough, Permanent Midnight writer Jerry Stahl was hired by Sony to rewrite Shelton’s script from a story based on the Wibberlys. Stahl was brought in for a week of work but stayed on board for 16 weeks to iron out the script. Twenty years after the movie’s release, Stahl admitted that only a few lines of dialog he wrote remain in the film.

At this point, it’s easy to see how the essence of the story is becoming lost in translation by the various scribes inputting their unique ideas. The notion that Shelton and Stahl are given screenplay credit is bizarre on its own, but it’s even stranger, considering the years of script work done before Shelton and Stahl were hired.

If it seems like we’re droning on about the script too much, it’s precisely the point. For Bad Boys II, Michael Bay brazenly ignored the script issues that plagued the first film. He got away with it the first time because of the movie’s commercial success. The irony is that despite the even more troubled script for Bad Boys II, the movie was even more successful than the first.

After reading Stahl’s rewrite of Shelton’s draft was deemed insufficient, Bruckheimer hired John Lee Hancock to rewrite the screenplay for Bad Boys II yet again. Bay pushed back on the choice, citing Hancock’s lack of action movies in his filmography. Bruckheimer insisted Hancock was the right choice, telling Bay that John was a director himself and understood how to solve the problems filmmakers often face on set. Hancock was responsible for adding subplots to make the script less simplistic and providing Mike and Marcus with a secret to add conflict to their characters. Despite his contributions, Hancock left Bad Boys II after three weeks to work on The Alamo.

Now here’s a knee-slapper that proves how absurd the Bad Boys II screenwriting process was. Judd Apatow was hired to rewrite the Bad Boys II script with assistance from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Rogen and Goldberg were so broke at the time that Apatow gave them some money to write a few jokes for Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and a few of their gags made into the script.

Following Apatow’s attempt, Rounders writers Brian Koppleman and David Levien worked on bolstering the characterizations for one week. Like a sick joke that won’t end, several other writers contributed, including George Gallo, Tony Gilroy, Brian Helgeland, and many more. Again, the point here is to underscore how Bad Boys II became a popular so-bad-its-good-action sequel due to its fundamental story problems. As George Clooney likes to say, you can make a bad movie from a good screenplay, but you cannot make a good movie from a bad screenplay.

Strapped with a bloated budget of $130 million, principal photography on Bad Boys II began on July 22, 2002, and lasted until December 2002. The five-month shoot primarily occurred in Miami, with additional locations filmed in Puerto Rico and Amsterdam. Filming occurred at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne, where 2 Fast 2 Furious was simultaneously filming on the other side. Meanwhile, the mansion that gets destroyed in the movie was filmed at Bird House in Delray Beach, Florida, built for Coca-Cola heir Mark Bird. The producers found the house after the owner advertised an expensive home to be blown up for movie production in Variety. Before Bay and his production team obtained the house, it was immaculate. When Bay was done filming, the swimming pool was the only thing left of the mansion. Everything else was blown to fucking bits. Once more, the blown-up mansion in Bad Boys II was not a fabricated set built for destruction. It was a real mansion the producers found with the deliberate purpose of burning it to the ground.

Meanwhile, drug lord Johnny Tapia’s Miami mansion was filmed at Villa Vizcaya, a sprawling estate that has since been turned into a museum and a wedding destination hotspot. During the scene when Tapia confronts Alexei and threatens him with the badass line, “Listen here you Russian punk, I, me, Johnny Tapia will sever your head off,” the quote is inspired by famous mobster John Gotti threatening the FBI. Heard on an FBI surveillance recording, Gotti barked, “You tell this punk, I, me, John Gotti will sever your motherfucking head off.”

As for the Spanish Palms Mortuary in the movie, the sequence was filmed at a milk factory for MacArthur Dairy.

Many of the car chase sequences in Bad Boys II were filmed along Miami’s MacArthur Causeway, with Eastbound traffick shut down in August 2002 to accommodate photography. Seeking to capture raw, up-close action footage that’s never been seen in a movie, Bay rigged cameras to multiple stunt cars and insisted on the stunt drivers deliberately crashing into the vehicles falling off the freeway. On the DVD Commentary, Bay noted that the Ferrari used during the extended chase scene came away completely unscathed, only for Martin Lawrence to accidentally sideswipe a road barrier with the Ferrari during an outtake.

Two nearly identical Ferraris were used for the production. The one that is seen most is a Ferrari 575 Maranello. The one that performs most of the challenging stunts in the movie is Michael Bay’s personally owned Ferrari 550 Maranello. Say what you will about Bay, but he did the same thing on Bad Bays when he used his personal Porsche to film the reshot opening sequence. Bay also makes a cameo in the film, driving the Piece of Shit car that Marcus tries to overtake before Mike urges him to steal a better vehicle.

Speaking of Marcus, he shares scenes in Bad Boys II with his dog, Mason Rock Bay. The English Mastiff belonged to Michael Bay in real life, and Martin was extremely uncomfortable performing scenes with Mason due to the dog’s large stature. Mason Rock Bay was named after Sean Connery’s character John Patrick Mason in Michael Bay’s The Rock. Sadly, Mason Rock Bay passed away in 2007 during the production of Transformers, which marked the dog’s final cameo.

Sticking with Transformers, star Megan Fox made her theatrical movie debut at age 15 in Bad Boys II. Her character was initially set to appear in a bar wearing a bikini, high heels, and a cowboy hat. Given her age, her character drinking in a bar was deemed untoward, yet somehow, the scene was rewritten to have her perform an erotic dance on stage, an even more inappropriate gesture.

Aside from using his pets and property for the production, part of Bay’s schtick is to improvise on the spot and come up with new ideas on the day of filming. Three days before filming for Bad Boys II, Bay insisted the villainous druglord Johnny Tapia speak with a Cuban accent. Bay approached Spanish actor Jordi Molla and gave him three days to prepare for the sudden change. As a result, Cuban actor Yul Vasquez, who portrays Detective Reyes in the movie, taped Molla’s lines in Spanish and English for him to study. Poor Molla. This guy already has to deal with a script rewritten 486 times, but now he has to rework his dialect and intonation three days before the cameras roll. Sheer insanity!

That wasn’t the only instance of Bay’s radical moviemaking methods. Get this. Dennis Greene, the young actor who plays Reggie in the film, was instructed by Bay not to speak with or make contact with Lawrence while filming scenes together. Greene also admitted that Lawrence acted cruelly and mistreated him on the set. Bay conjured the entire charade to elicit a genuinely terrified response from Greene when Marcus brandishes a gun. Greene has appeared in both sequels, including the upcoming Bad Boys Ride or Die, indicating that no hard feelings exist between him, Bay, and Lawrence.

As for Bad Boys II, Michael Bay’s first R-rated movie outperformed the original at the box office despite being skewered by critics. The film grossed $273 million worldwide, nearly doubling Bad Boys’ $141 million international haul. Despite taking seven years to develop the screenplay, which many critics noted lacked the witty banter of the first film, Bad Boys II struck a popular nerve among the masses when it blasted theaters in July 2003.

Although the movie grossed over a quarter-billion dollars, critics had a field day eviscerating Bay’s excessive pyrotechnics. Bad Boys II currently boasts a sad 23% Rotten Tomatoes Score and a lowly 38 Metascore, indicating that stuffy hifalutin critics do not know how to have a good time at the movies when attending an FX-driven popcorn spectacle. On the contrary, the film rocks a 78% Audience Score and a 6.6 IMDb rating, suggesting that general moviegoers do understand what makes a fun diversionary entertainment that needn’t rely on Oscar-caliber prestige. Bad Boys II holds up as a so-bad-its-good action sequel that excels thanks to the comedic chemistry between Smith and Lawrence and Bay’s indulgent over-the-top action. The movie also has a legacy, responsible for spawning the TV spinoff, L.A.’s Finest, starring Gabrielle Union as Marcus Burnett’s sister, Sydney. The movie also led to an atrocious video game released in 2003 titled Bad Boys: Miami Takedown.

Sixteen years after the success of Bad Boys II, a small-screen spinoff called L.A.’s Finest hit the streets. The show revolves around Bad Boys II character Syd Burnett, Marcus’ younger sister and Mike’s girlfriend. In the movie, Syd works undercover for the DEA and is tasked with infiltrating the Russian mafia and laundering money. Union reprises her role as Syd in L.A.’s Finest, co-starring with Jessica Alba, who portrays LAPD detective Nancy McKenna. The two work in the LAPD’s Robbery/Homicide Division. Fletcher, the computer hacker played by former NBA star John Salley in Bad Boys II, also reprises his role in the TV show.

L.A.’s Finest lasted two seasons and 26 episodes before being canceled in 2020.

Of course, 2020 also saw the release of Bad Boys For Life, the highest-grossing sequel in franchise history, despite, or perhaps due to, Mike and Marcus being absent from the screen for 17 years. Interestingly, Bad Boys For Life was not directed by Michael Bay, but by the more talented filmmaking duo, Adil & Billal. The Belgian filmmakers also directed the franchise’s fourth film entry, Bad Boys Ride or Die, slated to hit theaters on June 7, 2024.

Until we drop another video about Bad Boys For Life, that’s What the F*ck Happened to Bad Boys II. The film was meant to be filmed the year after the first movie came out but was delayed by seven painstaking years of script rewrites. Although the seven-year screenwriting process did not improve on the witty banter featured in the first film in the eyes of most critics, Bad Boys II proved to be bulletproof when it bombarded the masses in the summer of 2003. As for Michael Bay, Bad Boys II marks the director’s final time working on the franchise in any capacity. Following Ambulance in 2022, Bay is set to direct the long-gestating Robopocalypse as his next feature.

Source: JoBlo

About the Author

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Jake Dee is one of JoBlo’s most valued script writers, having written extensive, deep dives as a writer on WTF Happened to this Movie and it’s spin-off, WTF Really Happened to This Movie. In addition to video scripts, Jake has written news articles, movie reviews, book reviews, script reviews, set visits, Top 10 Lists (The Horror Ten Spot), Feature Articles The Test of Time and The Black Sheep, and more.