National Security (2003 film)

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National Security
National Security movie poster.jpg
Poster for National Security.
Directed by Dennis Dugan
Produced by Moritz Borman
Martin Lawrence
Peaches Davis
Nigel Sinclair
Jeff Kwatinetz
Robert Newmyer
Written by Jay Scherick
David Ronn
Starring Martin Lawrence
Steve Zahn
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography Oliver Wood
Edited by Debra Neil-Fisher
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • January 17, 2003 (2003-01-17)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $50,097,949 (worldwide)

National Security is a 2003 action comedy film, directed by Dennis Dugan, starring Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn. In addition to Lawrence and Zahn, National Security boasts an additional cast of Bill Duke, Eric Roberts, Colm Feore, Matt McCoy, and others.

The film was released in January 2003 and went on to gross over $50 million worldwide at the box office. The film was shot at various locations in Greater Los Angeles, including Long Beach and Santa Clarita.


Two LAPD policemen, Hank Rafferty (Zahn) and his partner Charlie Reed (Timothy Busfield), investigate a warehouse heist and discover a gang of thieves, one of which shoots Charlie to death before they escape.

Meanwhile, Earl Montgomery's (Lawrence) lifelong dream to become a police officer is thwarted when he flunks police academy.

After being warned by Detective Frank McDuff (Colm Feore) that he will be fired for interfering with the investigation of Charlie's death, Hank crosses paths with Earl when Hank notices Earl trying to get into his car when he finds his keys locked inside. Hank starts to question Earl, who race-baits Hank to the point of getting himself arrested. A bumblebee comes along, to which Earl is violently allergic. Earl panics and Hank tries to swat the bee away with his nightstick. From afar, it appears as if Hank, a white policeman, is brutalizing a black suspect while at the same time a Latino man catches the incident on videotape. Humiliated, Hank is fired from the police force and charged with aggravated assault against Earl. He is sentenced to six months in prison.

After being released from prison, Hank takes a job as a security guard and continues to investigate Charlie's death. Noticing an alarm being tripped at a soda warehouse, Hank goes to investigate.

Meanwhile, Earl, who happens to be working for the same security company, is on duty at the same warehouse, but is slacking off. When Hank arrives, he inadvertently interrupts the heist, and a gunfight erupts with the thugs, during which Hank and Earl cross paths again. The duo manage to kill some of the thugs, destroying everything in the process. Though the rest of thugs get away, Hank recognizes the tattoo of the man who shot Charlie, whose name he learns is Nash (Eric Roberts), as well as the fact that he is the leader.

One of the thieves drops a cell phone, which leads them to a semi truck rented by the killers. Inside, Hank and Earl find a van. They drive the van out of the truck but the van falls off the bridge onto a garbage barge. Inside the van are what look like ordinary beer kegs, but Hank has them examined by a friend who works at a foundry, who informs them that the kegs are actually made of an aerospace alloy which is worth millions.

Hank takes the van and the kegs to the house of his ex-girlfriend, Denise (Robinne Lee). They broke up after Hank was arrested, and Hank orders Earl to tell Denise the truth about the "assault." Earl had previously said "I know baby. But I promise you. My life is pretty much figured out." However, when Earl sees that Denise is an attractive black woman, he breaks his promise and starts making a move on her, playing the victim for the second time. She throws both of them out of the house, and when Hank asks for an explanation, Earl reveals that he hates interracial dating (but only when the man is white). Hank is infuriated at Earl for sabotaging his relationship with Denise and points out that for all his talk about racism, it is actually Earl himself who is the racist. During the argument, Hank punches Earl and storms off. Earl runs back to Hank, just as they are both cornered by police, learning that they are wanted as suspects in the bridge shootout. After they manage to escape, Hank realizes that the thieves must have an inside man in the police department to help the thugs frame the duo for the shootout.

That night, after tracing the van's owner to an address, Hank and Earl stake out the place, but Earl foolishly rushes inside on his own, where he is confronted by Nash. Hank manages to get Earl to safety, but Earl takes a bullet in the leg. At Denise's house, they discover that Earl's wound is a graze. Fortunately for Hank, a bee flies into the house, and Earl runs for cover, making Denise realize that Hank's outlandish story about the "assault" on Earl was actually true. She slaps Earl for lying and putting Hank in jail. She throws Earl out of the house and reconciles with Hank.

Based on something overheard from Nash, they follow him to a meeting at a Yacht Club and witness him talking to McDuff, who is revealed to be Nash's inside man. Hank and Earl share everything they know with their boss, Lieutenant Washington (Bill Duke), and then pretend to approach McDuff, offering to sell him back the "beer kegs" for $1 million. However, Nash overhears their plans and takes Washington hostage first.

The next morning, during the confrontation, Earl and Hank meet with McDuff, Nash and their men near the coast, rescuing Washington and accidentally starting a shootout, but the trio manage to kill or apprehend most of Nash's gang, including McDuff. During the shootout, Hank saves Earl's life by warning him about a gunman taking aim at him, getting shot himself in the process, but survives. Earl engages in a fight with Nash while Hank is wounded and slow to get up. Though wounded, Hank takes off after Nash alone and kills him by dropping a crane load onto an unstable slab Nash is standing on, catapulting him into the ocean.

Six months later, in honor of their heroic actions, Hank is reinstated in the LAPD and Earl is admitted to the force, and they are made partners a short time later.



The main songs are:

  • Fruko y Sus Tesos ("El Preso")
  • Graveyard Soldjas ("Don't Start None")
  • The Warden ("Silly")
  • Petey Pablo ("Blow Your Whistle")
  • De La Soul featuring Chaka Khan ("All Good")
  • Tracy ("One More Try")
  • Barry White ("Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Babe")
  • Fingaz ("Baby")
  • 95 South ("Cool Ade (Extended Mix)")
  • Lil' O ("Ay Yo")
  • Bathgate ("Bump That")
  • Damian Valentine ("Revolution")
  • Disturbing Tha Peace ("N.S.E.W.")

Critical reception[edit]

The film was poorly received by critics, receiving a rating of 11% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 88 reviews.[1]

Joe Leydon of Variety wrote that "Despite some tasty contributions from Lawrence and Zahn, too much of National Security has the bland flavor of microwaved leftovers."[2] Tom Long of The Detroit News wrote that the movie was "loud, crass, dumb and then even dumber."[3] John Monaghan of the Detroit Free Press highlighted what he saw as an "off-putting" racial subtext that made him unable to enjoy the movie.[4]


External links[edit]