National Security (2003)

PG-13  |   |  Action, Comedy, Crime  |  17 January 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 37,268 users   Metascore: 31/100
Reviews: 142 user | 50 critic | 25 from

Two mismatched security guards are thrown together to bust a smuggling operation.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlie Reed
Robert Barton
Woman in Car
Booking Clerk
Hank's Lawyer
Billy Narthax
Owen Fergus


Earl and Hank have only one thing in common: they're both L.A.P.D. rejects. One just got kicked out, the other can't even get in. After confronting each other on opposite sides of the law during a traffic stop that escalates out of control, these two luckless individuals end up partnered as lowly security guards. Despite being damned to the lowest rung of the law enforcement ladder, Earl and Hank uncover a sophisticated smuggling operation led by Nash and his band of thugs. When Earl and Hank get their hands on some hot property, they go on the run from, first the bad guys, then the L.A.P.D.--led by Lt. Washington and Detective McDuff. What these two unlikely partners do to law enforcement is a crime, but they just might save the day. That is, if they don't kill each other first. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


This January, a buddy comedy without the buddies. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence, language and some sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 January 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Segurança Nacional  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$16,813,517 (USA) (17 January 2003)


$901,698 (South Africa) (30 May 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


DVD has alternate ending. See more »


While Hank is trying to call the big rig company on the cell phone, Earl puts his glasses away twice. See more »


Hank Rafferty: I had a partner! I would have taken a bullet for him! You I'm having a hard time not shooting!
See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

At best – Tired. At worst – bigoted and offensive
31 May 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Earl Montgomery is a cop wannabe who can't get past the academy into the force. Hank Rafferty is a real cop who is emotionally on edge having seen the murder of his partner by a gang raiding a warehouse. When the two get involved in a minor roadside traffic stop, Earl claims Hank beat him and gets him thrown off the force. Hank takes up a job as a security guard and sets out to find the gang that killed his partner. He finds them in a warehouse protected by Earl (also now a security guard) and the two reluctantly team up to go after the gang. However when they steal the gang's merchandise they find themselves hunted by both the gang and the cops.

Although I like to think of myself as having reasonably good taste – I do find Martin Lawrence funny. I don't know why but many of his films just make me laugh even though I feel like I shouldn't ! However this film is the recent exception to that. I saw the trailer and thought that it might be worth a stab – wrong! The plot is a shambles of coincidence and plot holes – where there is a doubt they simply have a big gun fight. There is no real tension to the plot as it is so very loose – even at the end you'll struggle to know much about the plot outside of the two central characters.

The action scenes make the A-Team look realistic and tense – they are simply tonnes of bullets flying everywhere before the bad guys are dispatched with one shot! This sucks any excitement or tension out of them and only leaves you with lots of noise that just feels pointless in the extreme. In that way they reflect the wider plot I guess. Sadly though, the poor action and poor plot is by no means the worst part of this film.

Easily the worst part of this film is the fact that 99% of the `jokes' are based on race – in particular Martin Lawrence's comments which are either a) laments on the victimisation of his race or b) reverse-racism remarks that border on the offensive and would certainly never be allowed to pass if the lines had been given to his white co-star. The victimisation things are simply not funny and merely make the lead look like he has an enormous chip on his shoulder about his colour – maybe 2 or 3 remarks along these lines would have worked but to have nearly every line based on this is simply overkill and it quickly gets tiresome. Other remarks I simply found offensive – I'm sorry, I know this is meant to be a comedy but I found them bigoted in the extreme. What makes it worse is the fact that the film plays Earl as a hero and never shows him to change his way or his opinion – hence it validates what he says. For example to have a character state that he is against interracial relationships between white men and black women (and never take it back) is simply offensive – as I (a white man) sat with my wife of Nigerian-descent I felt very uncomfortable that anyone would allow such insulting dialogue to be part of a film. Even if you think I am making a big deal out of nothing – just imagine this whole film if even half of Earl's dialogue had been said by Hank – there would simply have been an outcry!

To make the offensive material worse – it is rarely funny. I don't know what Lawrence is up to. This summer he has the chance to kick start his big league career again in Bad Boys 2 where he'll get help from Smith and Union – but this is a huge leap back – pandering to an audience that may find it funny because they too have a chip on their shoulder about race. I usually find his mugging and saying `yo ass' or `and sh*t' after every sentence funny but here the chip on his character should simply obliterates everything else. Zahn is poor – I have not seen him in a strong role but this must be a step backwards even by his standards – he suffers at the hands of racist remarks and comes off badly – even his relationship with Denise is played for laughs as the writers expected the audience to find it a joke that Hank could land with a `fine sista' like that, it even goes so far as to have Denise admire Earl's penis!! In fairness Robinne Lee (Denise) is gorgeous and it is good to see her in something again after only seeing her in Hav Plenty. God knows why Eric Roberts is in it – he has nothing to do and his wig just looked stupid, likewise Bill Duke is only there for the dirty looks.

Overall I enjoy Lawrence comedies even though many are silly. Here the jokes are nearly all based on race or reverse-racism and after the first 3 time they get increasingly unfunny and tired. At best this film is lame and barely amusing, at worst it is simply bigoted (regardless of what colour the character is – bigotry is bigotry) and will be offensive to anyone who tries to get past the issues of race and racism in their daily lives.

14 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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