National Security  (2002)


Starring: Martin Lawrence, Steve Zahn, Eric Roberts
Dennis Dugan

Rating: PG-13

Studio: Columbia Tristar

Review Posted: 5.16.03

Spoilers: None


Reviewed by Dennis Landmann




LAPD reject and major troublemaker Earl (Lawrence) got Officer Hank (Zahn) kicked off the force for brutality. Now, these two guys who can't stand each other, are stuck working together as lowly security guards. And they're playing cops to bring down a smuggling ring if they can stay alive and stay one step ahead of the real cops.




Martin Lawrence stars in yet another bland film after disasters like Whatís The Worst That Could Happen, Black Knight, and the unfunny RunTelDat. Big Mommaís House and Blue Streak are better than those films named above, but not by a whole lot. His last good film paired him with Tim Robbins. That film is Nothing To Lose (a must-see comedy classic of the late 90s), but dates back six years. Itís not Lawrenceís fault per se, but almost all of the films he agrees to star in have nothing to offer. Either he doesnít get good offers or there is no good material for him.


Those comments put aside, National Security pairs Lawrence with Steve Zahn (usually a funny and reliable co-star). The film runs on a thin plot, lacks comedy and includes too many racial remarks.


The relationship of Earl and Hank, played by Lawrence and Zahn respectively, is based on dislike and ridicule. Chemistry is non-existent in almost every scene and therefore kills most of the enjoyment of the film. Lawrence doesnít have much to work with and it shows. His performance is as repetitive and bland as his signature line in the film, ďWhat the problem is?Ē Zahn does the best he can with his material, which consists of almost nothing, although I have to say I find him the best thing about the film.


The direction by Dennis Dugan, whose inexperience with action shows, is uninspired. The screenplay is uninspired, too. Written by Jay Scherick and David Ronn, National Security is as recycled as last weekís trash. I mean, how often have we seen two misfits who go out on their own to bring down a corrupt institution. The comedy lacks punch and jokes are primarily based on racial remarks, which becomes annoying and offensive real quick. All in all, National Security has almost nothing to offer, except for one or two exciting action pieces, and I donít mean the ridiculous climax by the cliffs, and Zahnís last stand-like performance.


4 out of 10


>Read Sara M. Fetter's Film Review!


The Video


National Security is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Columbia provides a clean and detailed transfer for a film that doesnít rely much on its visual style. The transfer is labeled as digitally mastered and remastered in High Definition. The color palette is fresh as all colors in the film really flourish and color detail/depth is very adequate. I didnít notice any lines or scratches on the print, but minor dirt spots occurred in some areas. Dark scenes perform real well as dark tones and black levels are adjusted well. National Security looks fairly flawless, but some discrepancies exist. You can also select to view the film in dreary fullscreen format.


8 out of 10


The Audio


National Security is available in an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Also digitally mastered, the audio presentation is handled very well. There are moments when the 5.1 soundtrack really comes in handy, namely when Lawrence and Zahn engage in endless gunplay. When bullets whiz by and hit things, the speakers act up. Rear speakers emit sound effects, but most of the noise is concentrated on the front speakers. Dialogue scenes are clear and the occasional pop/rap songs are loud. Randy Edelmanís score is hardly recognizable, in fact, I canít remember hearing much of anything. The overall surround usage is handled well, but it is nowhere near impressive, which makes sense considering the quality of the film. All in all, National Security provides a very nice audio presentation. You can also select to hear the film in French Dolby Surround (just for fun, listen to the French voices of Lawrence and Zahn).


8 out of 10


The Extras


Commentary by Director Dennis Dugan Ė He who directed Big Daddy and other films doesnít have deep thoughts, but as he mentions, Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann, and The Coen Bros. do. Moreover, it feels like heís at a loss of words. Maybe itís just me, but heís not very convincing while talking about National Security. His enthusiasm is evident in this track, but it is not very interesting, even if Dugan keeps it fairly conversational. You should only consider this track if you liked the film or have nothing else to do, I mean nothing.


Deleted Scenes Ė Iím surprised only two scenes were actually deleted from the film, but Iím not surprised to find them unnecessary and unfunny. The third scene, which is really an alternate ending, features a heroic, but totally ridiculous fight scene involving Lawrence and Zahn against one of Eric Robertís bad guys. That scene cuts to the badge ceremony, which is intact in the final film but shortened significantly. The alternate ending goes on way too long and feels pretty lame. There is nothing interesting here (as usual with most deleted scenes).


Next up is the Music Video for the song N.S.E.W. by Disturbing Tha Peace. Bonus trailers are included as well, featuring a look at the outdated Charlieís Angels: Full Throttle teaser and two other trailers. You can select to view the film with optional English and French subtitles. The DVDís main menu is animated to spinning heads (of Lawrence, Zahn, etc.) and a hip beat, but it gets annoying if you leave it on for too long. The sub-menus are not animated. The 88-minute feature is organized into twenty-eight chapters. Coined as a special edition, this DVD release lacks the most important ingredient: a good film.


4 out of 10




National Security is a recycled piece of comedy that lacks character chemistry and jokes. Fans of Martin Lawrence or Steve Zahn should be disappointed, but that depends on the individual. The DVD offers a nice video and audio presentation, but donít be fooled by the special edition banner.












OVERALL (not an average)





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