If rampant misogyny and racism sound like a laugh riot, by all means see National Security, a “comedy” so aggressively unpleasant that it’s worthy of squirms. The problem lies not with using race commentary to spark a comedic fire. But star Martin Lawrence’s shtick is so full of hatred that no group goes unscathed — not even African-Americans.
All of this is wrapped up in the package of yet another buddy-action-comedy. LAPD reject Earl Montgomery (Lawrence) must team up with former LAPD officer Hank Rafferty (Steve Zahn) to take down a ring of evil precious-metals smugglers.
Good action wouldn’t be enough to temper this film’s repugnance, but National Security doesn’t even have that. Every gun battle is the prototypical slow motion, two-gun John Woo shootout and every car chase ends with a car rocketing off some sort of hidden jump ramp.
The lone bright spot is the caustically humorous way Earl and Hank cross each other’s paths. Otherwise, it’s loud-mouthed ugliness spewing from Lawrence’s mouth. The film reaches a true low when Earl, in a position to help Hank with a failed relationship, realizes Hank’s girlfriend is Black and changes his mind. Only dead silence was heard during this scene, played completely for laughs.
This is one of the most offensive comedies in years and, although it’s early, a top contender for one of 2003’s worst.