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National Security (2003 film)

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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.

National Security
National Security movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDennis Dugan
Produced byBobby Newmyer
Jeff Silver
Michael Green
Written byJay Scherick
David Ronn
StarringMartin Lawrence
Steve Zahn
Music byRandy Edelman
CinematographyOliver Wood
Edited byDebra Neil-Fisher
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • January 17, 2003 (2003-01-17)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$50.1 million

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 and Charlie Reed, investigate a warehouse heist and discover a gang of thieves, one of which kills Charlie before they escape.

Meanwhile, Earl Montgomery's lifelong dream to become a police officer is thwarted when he flunks police academy for accidentally destroying a Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Hank receives a warning from Detective Frank McDuff after interfering with the investigation of Charlie's death. Hank crosses paths with Earl when he notices Earl trying to get into his car after locking his keys inside. When Hank questions Earl, Earl race-baits Hank to the brink of getting himself arrested. A bumblebee comes along, to which Earl is allergic, causing him to panic. From afar, it appears as if Hank is brutalizing Earl when he is actually attempting to shoo the bee away by swatting it with his expandable baton; a Latino man catches the incident on videotape. As a result of the seeming evidence and a spiteful Earl lying about the accused brutalizing, Hank is fired from the police force and charged with aggravated assault against Earl.

After six months in prison, Hank takes a job as a security guard and continues investigating Charlie's death. Noticing an alarm being tripped at a soda warehouse, Hank goes to investigate. Earl, who is working for the same security company, is on duty at the warehouse, but is slacking off. Hank interrupts the heist, and a gunfight erupts with the thugs, during which Hank and Earl cross paths again. Though the rest of the thugs get away (thanks to Earl and Hank getting pulled over by two police officers), Hank recognizes the tattoo of the man who shot Charlie, whose name he learns is Nash.

One of the thieves drops a cell phone, which leads them to a semi-trailer truck rented by the killers and located on a bridge. Inside the truck, Hank and Earl find the thieves' van. After a brief shootout with the thieves, Hank and Earl drive the van out of the truck and escape. Inside the van are what look like ordinary beer kegs; Hank has them examined by a friend who works at a foundry, who informs them that the kegs are actually made of an atomic aerospace alloy, which is worth millions. Hank takes the van and the kegs to the house of his ex-girlfriend Denise. They broke up after Hank was arrested, and Hank orders Earl to tell Denise the truth about the "assault." Earl promises, but when he sees that Denise is an attractive woman (and, like himself but not Hank, black), he breaks his promise and starts hitting on her, by playing the victim again, which causes another fight between them, leading to her throwing both of them out of the house. After a heated argument, Hank brutally punches Earl in the face, before storming off. Later, Earl and Hank are cornered by police, learning that they are suspects in the bridge shootout. After they escape, Hank realizes that the thieves must have an inside man in the police department to help them 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 rushes inside on his own and is confronted by Nash. Hank gets Earl to safety, but Earl is shot in the leg and forced to lend Hank his favorite gun, "Earl Junior" after Hank uses up the ammunition in his own gun. When Hank takes Earl to Denise to get his wound treated (which turns out to be a graze), a bee flies into the house and Earl runs for cover, making Denise realize that Hank's story about the "assault" on Earl was actually true. She punches Earl for lying and imprisoning Hank, and reconciles with Hank (which was cut from the final film, possibly for time constraints.)

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 Hank's former boss, Lieutenant Washington (at various points of the conversation, Earl asks Washington for one of his potato chips, but Washington continuously refuses), 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. During the confrontation the next day, 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. Hank survives a gunshot wound while Earl fights Nash. Eventually, Hank kills Nash by dropping a nearby crane's lifting hook onto an unstable slab of rock that Nash is standing on, catapulting him into the ocean.

Six more 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 two encounter a situation similar to where they met, in which a man is apparently locked out of his car. Earl helps the man, but learns afterwards that the man is actually stealing the car from a lady who is shopping. While attempting to stop the man by shooting out the car's tires with Earl Junior, Earl accidentally destroys the car, much to the lady's anger and dismay.



The main songs are:

  • "Silly" - The Warden
  • "One of These Days" - Wu-Tang Clan
  • "95 South" - Cool Ade
  • "All Good? - De La Soul
  • "N.S.E.W." - Disturbing tha Peace
  • 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 receptionEdit

The film was poorly received by critics, receiving a rating of 11% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 88 reviews.[1] The site's critical consensus reads: "The action in National Security is mindless, while the humor says nothing insightful about racial issues."

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]


  1. ^ "National Security (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 24, 2009.
  2. ^ RT Summary
  3. ^ Detroit News
  4. ^ DFP Review

External linksEdit