It’s a tough thing to admit after years of struggling with addiction, but I need professional help. I knew something was wrong the first time I recommended ‘Black Knight’ to a friend, sensed something unnatural was at work when I paid nine bucks to see ‘National Security’ in the theater, and started to worry one late night when I caught ‘Big Momma’s House’ on HBO and didn’t change the channel within fifteen minutes. Yes dear readers, I am completely and utterly entertained by Martin Lawrence. It doesn’t matter if he’s competing in an F-bomb contest with Will Smith, trudging his way through a period comedy with Eddie Murphy, or... sigh… taking to the road with John Travolta and Tim Allen, I’m rarely disappointed. It seems that no matter how bad I recognize some of Lawrence’s movies are, I’m perpetually amused by his comic stylings.
’Blue Streak’ -- a 1999 box office hit from director Les Mayfield (‘Flubber’) -- doesn’t overcome its formulaic script or poorly developed subplots, but it does manage to deliver hearty laughs, infectiously funny performances, and plenty of opportunities for its cast to showcase their improvisational skills. Lawrence plays yet another wise-cracking, oddly likeable loser named Miles Logan, a jewel thief who stashes a valuable diamond in a construction site moments before he’s arrested. After a relatively short stint in prison, Logan returns to claim his prize, but discovers he accidentally hid the jewel in a building that has since become the LAPD’s headquarters. Posing as a decorated detective, Logan infiltrates the station, works to fool his newly assigned partner (Luke Wilson), struggles to prevent an old friend (Dave Chappelle) from revealing his ruse, and rushes to find the diamond before his cover is blown.
Farfetched? Sure. Littered with plot holes? Most definitely. But therein lies ‘Blue Streak’s (admittedly tenuous) charm. Lawrence plays a bumbling criminal who just so happens to be the smartest cop on the force. Thankfully, the resulting comedy of errors is never presented as anything other than a gag-driven farce, and the laughs roll off the tongue more easily with the knowledge that the filmmakers and the cast are purposefully playing things quick and light. It doesn’t matter that every cop is three-shades shy of being a moron, it doesn’t matter that the criminals are either loveable misfits or heavy-handed caricatures, and it certainly doesn’t matter that the story bobs and weaves as it sees fit. All that matters is that the cast has a blast, Lawrence gives his all to every scene, and the continuous stream of setups and punchlines are sharp, witty, and unexpected.
I know my appreciation of all things Martin Lawrence (good or bad) doesn’t make me the best judge of a comedy that relies so heavily on the actor’s go-to schtick, but I can’t help but enjoy ‘Blue Streak’ every time I watch it. While the film’s obvious humor and silly action won’t appeal to everyone, anyone who digs Lawrence’s rapid-fire banter, rubber-faced expressions, and overreaching reactions will find more than a few laughs buried within this one.
’Blue Streak’ features a decent (albeit decidedly dull) 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that simply failed to excite or engage me. Colors are stable but bland, contrast is consistent but dreary, and black levels are suitably deep but rarely resolved. Detail offers the most noticeable improvement over the standard DVD, offering fans finer textures, crisper hair and pores, and more revealing shadow delineation. However, the picture is still softer than the best comedies available in high definition. The original print is in good condition, but several bouts of distracting noise, a few faint clusters of artifacts, and regular appearances of edge enhancement made the image itself rather disappointing.
While no one issue single-handedly wrecks the transfer, the combination of lackluster qualities undermine any scene that actually looks good. I would suggest current DVD owners save some cash and wait for this one to find its way into the Blu-ray bargain bin.
’Blue Streak’ stumbles onto Blu-ray with a surprisingly flat and uninvolving Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track. Gunfire, hip-hop beats, and anxious shouts frequent the soundscape, but none of the more aggressive sonics arrive with the weight, impact, or LFE support that I expect from a lossless audio mix. While dialogue is fairly crisp and well-prioritized, it has to contend with a thin, front-heavy soundfield. The rear speakers are never used to their full potential, are often ignored all together, and rarely create an immersive soundfield. Pans are still quite transparent, but directionality is inconsistent and made me feel like I was playing soundfield roulette. It doesn’t help that ambience is scattershot at best and interior acoustics make almost every scene sound like it was shot on a soundstage.
A quick comparison to the standard DVD audio track reveals slight improvements in clarity and overall dynamics, but not enough to warrant a higher score. At worst, this TrueHD mix is a mediocre waste. At best, it’s an average presentation that can’t compete with better lossless tracks on the market. Either way, it’s not an effective selling point for the disc.
The Blu-ray edition of ’Blue Streak’ includes the same sad set of supplements that appear on its Special Edition DVD counterpart. Not only is the video content presented in standard definition, but you can plow through everything the disc has to offer in less than an hour. I can’t say it’s a huge disappointment – unless you were expecting a three-disc blowout for a Martin Lawrence quickie – but a cast commentary would have gone a long way to making this supplemental package more entertaining.
’Blue Streak’ cracks me up, but I know it’s not for everyone. It has a great cast, plenty of laughs, and some truly outrageous gags (of the light-hearted, PG-13 persuasion), but it also suffers from gaping plot holes, idiotic characters, and a predictable story. However, regardless of how you feel about the film itself, the Blu-ray edition is a hefty disappointment. Average video, mediocre TrueHD audio, and extremely limited supplements should give even the most ardent Martin Lawrence fans pause. I would suggest renting this one long before considering a purchase.