I wouldn't exactly call Martin Lawrence a poor man's Eddie Murphy--especially since Murphy has been vying for that dubious title himself, lately. But that's how "Blue Streak" feels to me: a slightly poorer cousin to "Beverly Hills Cop" that also seems less rich because viewers will recognize plot elements from "Hot Rock" as well.
That said, "Blue Streak" is still an entertaining film which, for all its predictability, is fun to watch. The biggest missteps come when Lawrence and/or director Les Mayfield ("Flubber," "Code Name: The Cleaner") decide it would help the film to have Lawrence don one of his character costumes and play the goofball. Sure, Murphy did it himself, but in different movies, not the same one in which he was the slap-happy loose cannon of a cop that pulled a whole, reluctant precinct along for the ride.
Here, Lawrence plays a fun-loving jewel thief named Miles Logan, whom we see at the outset trying to heist a diamond that looks like a glass doorknob. But there's a traitor among his "gang," and this guy Deacon (Peter Greene) tries to whack everyone so he can keep the diamond for himself. Not too bright, as the first whack gets the cops' attention in a big way. Yet, Deacon is the only one to escape. Two years later, Miles is celebrating his release from prison and making a beeline for the third-floor heating and cooling shaft in which he taped the rock. Trouble is, the building that was under construction is now complete, and it turns out to be the local police station.
After an unsuccessful attempt to deliver pizzas to the third floor (and generate humor with goofy racial stereotype nonsense), Miles goes to his master-forger friend (Richard C. Sarafian) to get police credentials so he can get inside the building. That too is a plan that goes awry, because a funny thing happens on the way to the diamond: Miles turns out to be a Murphy-style supercop with no regard for the law and an uncanny sense of what's going down . . . because he's got a criminal mind himself.
Luke Wilson plays the wide-eyed innocent rookie cop that Judge Reinhold did so well in "Beverly Hills Cop," and he does a pretty capable job. It's certainly a nice low-key bounce-back from the manic behavior that Lawrence gives us, along with Dave Chappelle as Tulley, his former "associate."
The problem is that we've seen this before, and so the whole burden of entertainment is placed squarely on the shoulders of the performers. As Miles and Deacon compete for the rock and Miles does his supercop impression for the locals and F.B.I., we smile and feel as if we're not wasting our time. Which is to say, the cast does a good job and the dialogue isn't bad. But with such a derivative film and a plot that couldn't be more obvious if Samuel Morse were tapping away, they needed to do a great job. Even the ending gives you flashbacks to Eddie Murphy buddy-cop films, or that two-sides-of-a-coin buddy picture "48 Hours."
In terms of action, there are two sequences that get the adrenalin going, and both of them are pretty standard as well, when it comes to cop pictures. There could have been more, and this also could have been consistently funnier. Lawrence is at his best and some of the laugh-out-loud moments come when he's acting more like a crook when he's supposed to be a cop, pounding people's heads against doors and giving the law-and-order crowd one big "our hero" gasp in the process. With a more original script, he could easily hang in there with Murphy. As long as they both stay out of fat suits, that is.
The 1080p picture (AVC/MPEG-4 transfer) looks pretty good in Hi Def, with bright, pleasingly saturated colors and strong black levels. The outdoor scenes even hold up pretty well, with a nice crisp silver look rather than the drab grays we sometimes get. There were no compression artifacts that I noticed, and no edge enhancement. Apart from a little noise in several frames, it's a clean-looking picture that delivers a good amount of detail. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1.
The featured audio is a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix in either English, French, or Portuguese, with additional options in Spanish and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 and subtitles in Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English SDH, English, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, and Indonesian. The big surprise here is that for an action-comedy with a rap soundtrack, the bass isn't more thumping. It's a pretty even mix that's not as dynamic as I would have thought.
Not much here: just a pair of under-25 minute features, three music videos, and the original trailer. "HBO First Look: Inside and Undercover" is the typical talking-heads-on-the-set series of interviews interspersed with clips from the film, intended, of course, as a big promo teaser. "Setting Up for the Score" is another standard making-of feature that trots out the usual suspects for another blend of talking heads and clips. As for the music videos, there's one by Jay-Z ("Girls Best Friend"), another by Tyrese ("Criminal Mind"), and one by So Plush ("Damn, should have treated you right").
I like buddy cop flicks, and films like "Lethal Weapon," "Beverly Hills Cop," "48 Hours" and "Running Scared" best define a genre that's able to balance comedy and serious action-adventure. "Blue Streak" is a little light on the serious side, and it's way too familiar to be anything more than a decent evening's diversion. Whatever number you assign to "Beverly Hills Cop," this film scores one notch lower.