So many times those of us in the movie going audience base our opinions of which movie we will see or not see based on the actors in the movie. I know form personal experience, that sometimes, a certain actor will determine if that movie is a yes, or a no, but what is even more true, is sometimes the views of that actor may not be based on their ability to act, but instead, on other circumstances such as their life style, or even their religion or politics. Many top actors have people who refuse to see their movies for these reasons, from Tom Cruise to Richard Gere, and From Jane Fonda to Barbara Streisand. No actor though seems to curl the hair on the back of the neck of some viewers like Sean Penn. Yet, for those who will give these actors a chance, they may discover some of the greatest at their talents to ever walk the earth.
Sean Penn is widely recognized for his ability an actor. Some consider him the male contemporary of Meryl Streep, almost everything he does is touched with Oscar recognition. What some don’t realize though is it wasn’t always that way with Penn. The release of a 1983 Prison Action Drama titled Bad Boys helped many see the talent a then rather young, Mr. Penn was developing. Thankfully, the movie is being released on BLU-Ray DVD for the first time by Lionsgate, the king of independent distribution.
Bad Boys has love, revenge, justice, forgiveness and change. The story follows the exploits of a young Mick O’Brien, played by Penn, a juvenile delinquent running the streets of Chicago. One night in a botched robbery, he accidently kills the younger brother of rival Paco Moreno played to the hilt by Esai Morales. After O’Brien’s imprisonment into a rough and tough juvenile detention center, Moreno eventually finds a way to get even with O’Brien who killed his younger brother. He involves O’Brien’s girlfriend, J.C., played by Ally Sheedy. Eventually, due to prison overcrowding, the two end up in the same prison and O’Brien is challenged to either survive by becoming who he once was, or to face the consequences by staying on the road to recovery. What transpires is a rather incredible story that has held up over the years, and for me, the chance to see it on Blu-Ray wasn’t just a chance to see it on a quality format, but a chance to see the movie for the first time.
Director Rick Rosenthal has been at the forefront of entertaining the youth of America for some time, it really all really started with his work on Halloween 2 back in 1982, but the film that gave him the credit he deserved came with Bad Boys in 1983. He has gone on and entertained not only in quality movies, but hip television series such as Smallville.
The story and character development in Bad Boys is quite unique, but the overwhelming power of the movie is in its acting. While there are some very good supporting roles in Bad Boys, Penn is so dynamic, so into the role that he simply overshadows everyone else in the film. In many instances Bad Boys could have been a revival of sorts for Ally Sheedy, and others such as Reni Santoni and Esai Morales could have been just as honored over the years as Penn, but it didn’t happen. While there are various reasons as to why, one can’t ignore the brilliance of Penn.
Bad Boys is a brilliant telling of the concepts of doing wrong, paying the price for that wrong, and the opportunity to change. One could look at the human condition being displayed in the character of Mick O’Brien. What we also see that is so brilliantly displayed is that even with the desire to change, even with the efforts that are obvious to others; it doesn’t mean that life will be easy. The things O’Brien has to face once Paco Moreno comes into the prison he is now living challenges him in every thing he has worked towards. Many of us face difficulty. We come to a place where we are faced to be either who we once were, or go through the consequences and the difficulty of being someone new. There are ample spiritual applications in the character played by Penn. I couldn’t help but wonder, just as the prisoners in the prison don’t help with these decisions for O’Brien, they often block out those who do care, and encourage the violence that could not only take a physical life, but take a spiritual life away from someone. Ultimately, O’Brien, just like each of us is forced to make the decisions we make. We are the ones that have to fight for our survival; we are the ones that make the decision as to who we will be.
Over the years I had heard many good things about Bad Boys, considering the time it was made, the story lines, and the transition we saw taking place in the types of roles Sean Penn was taking on, from Fast Times at Ridgemont High to Bad Boys, I now know why. I was pleasantly pleased with the story and the transfer of sound and visual quality on the Blu-Ray rendition. I was also very disappointed in the reality that outside of a director’s commentary, there were no other special features of note except for the advertising for Lionsgate films. I personally don’t consider commercials as a part of the package that moves me to pay a higher price for the DVD. If there are substantial differences in the pricing from Blu-Ray to regular DVD, I wouldn’t recommend the Blu-Ray, if however, there is a small difference in price, by all means the Blu-Ray would be worth it for its quality. My hope is that the release of the Blu-Ray will do for many what it did for me, a reminder to revisit some of our pasts very good to great films. In that regard, Bad Boys falls into that area for me and I for one am glad that I finally got to see it.
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