Last summer, motorists on Miami's MacArthur Freeway were greeted with a rather unusual traffic sign: '''Bad Boys II' thanks you for your patience.'' The blinking apology was intended for the thousands of Floridians irked at the film's concrete-clogging shoot (more on that later). But it could just as easily have been a message to fans of 1995's guns and poses original, who have had to wait eight years for a follow-up. Why the delay? According to producer Jerry Bruckheimer, it was a matter of getting his stars (and director) aligned. ''We had to get all of them to do it at the same time,'' he says of Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, and Michael Bay, who helped the original rake in $141 million worldwide. ''They're huge now. Both of [the actors] were TV stars [during the original], but this movie started their careers as far as features go.'' But while their statures -- and salaries -- may have swelled since 1995, Smith insists that their heads haven't.
''Everyone has hundreds of millions of dollars under our belts, and we all put our egos aside,'' the actor says. ''We were excited about the nostalgia we could create on the film. We were open to the new nuances.'' We'll have to take his word on those nuances, but ''Bad Boys II'' does promise plenty of slo-mo explosions and buddy-buddy bantering. While early scripts featured narcotics detectives Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) globe-hopping in London and Paris, Bruckheimer and Bay eventually settled on Shelton's straight-from-the-headlines draft, which keeps the duo in Miami, tracking down a violent ring of Ecstasy dealers. Off-duty distraction comes in the form of Burnett's visiting sister, played by Gabrielle Union, with whom Lowrey becomes smitten, much to his pal's chagrin.
As for those aforementioned raging roadsters, the inconvenience prompted some residents to complain to the city. Bruckheimer and Bay did find time to give back to the community -- by blowing up a multimillion-dollar mansion slated for destruction.
''They wanted to demolish it, and we helped them,'' he says. ''It was a pretty big explosion. We didn't quite level it, but we did a nice job.''