By Owen Gleiberman
Updated September 24, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • Movie

How lame have high-concept, no-brain comedies gotten? In Blue Streak, Martin Lawrence plays a burglar who gets out of prison and impersonates a cop so that he can retrieve his prize booty: a diamond the size of a chestnut, which is locked in a downtown Los Angeles police station. The concept is smart-mouth black cop who’s crazy enough to do anything. But just contrast Blue Streak with its obvious progenitor, Beverly Hills Cop. In that movie, Eddie Murphy’s words shot off in all directions.

In Blue Streak, Lawrence’s Miles Logan fumbles around a bit as he attempts to master the steely postures of an L.A. detective, yet the surrounding officers are such dim bulbs that it doesn’t take much effort for him to fit in. Blue Streak is structured as a thief-out-of-water comedy, but Martin acts like more of a real cop than Murphy ever did. The movie actually prefers him that way. It’s too in love with authority, with formula, to explode into a wild-ass celebration of a guy who trashes the rules.

Lawrence was funny and fascinating when he unleashed his aggression in A Thin Line Between Love & Hate, and the movie, which he wrote and directed (impressively), was even a modest hit. But ever since then, he’s been mealy and eager to please on screen. He seems trapped in his jug-eared, slightly clownish nervousness, like a sidekick suddenly shoved into the spotlight. Blue Streak pairs Lawrence with the likable Luke Wilson, who steals scenes by underplaying his quizzical blankness. As an underworld crony whom Logan is forced to arrest, Dave Chappelle simmers and writhes. It’s the star who’s on autopilot. Then again, maybe these other actors would be too if they had to hold together a movie that can barely get a grip on its own concept. D+

Blue Streak

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 93 minutes
  • Les Mayfield