Don’t worry. I’m not here to trash the new Top Gun movie, which is doing exceedingly well at the box office and which audiences seem to love.
There would be no end to a list of any type of sequel that let down the promise of its predecessor, but the action movie genre is particularly good at spawning follow-ups that are as much fun as the originals. Aliens, the sequel to the classic 1980 space monster flick, is a high-octane thrill-ride that manages to be one of the best of its genre. Terminator 2 is inarguably an improvement over the original. The Road Warrior, the sequel to Mad Max, is another classic. In general, the Die Hard sequels have all been pretty goddamn cool (with the exception of anything made after 1995). And, while I haven’t seen it yet, Top Gun: Maverick is currently wooing audiences all across the land.
That said, there are some sequels that just do not deserve to live. We’ve compiled a few of them for you. Some of them are old. Some of them are new. All of them are bad!
Bad Boys II
This 2003 movie is so terrible on so many different levels that it’s hard to even know where to start. I don’t know that I’ve ever managed to get through the film’s unbearable and inexplicable 147 minute run — though I’ve tried several times, in a generous effort to find something redeemable about it. Each time I’ve come away angry, clutching my eyes, cursing at the television in disgust. Admittedly, the original 1995 Bad Boys wasn’t a great film either, but this one is really a reverse masterpiece of abhorrent crap.
The premise is this: Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are cops in Miami. But they’re also bros! Best bros! Or, as they like to say, “bad boys for life.” Yes, they call themselves “bad boys.” Anyway, the duo investigate drug traffickers in Miami, bad things happen, and supposed laughs and explosions ensue. Honestly, you don’t really need to worry about the plot — because there isn’t one. The movie is “funny,” which means that Smith and Lawrence waste precious minutes of your life with canned quips that sound like they were written by a computer. Every 10 to 15 minutes the plot descends into an incoherent orgy of violence, which usually involves car chases, automatic weapons, explosions, shrapnel, cursing, and other annoying stuff. These sequences are meant to excite, but they’re really just loud and long and hard on the eyes. This abomination is also directed by Michael Bay (of course it is) and is edited with all the frenetic mania of a coke addict.
In short: if there is a hell, mine will likely involve being forced to watch this movie on repeat with my eyelids stitched open like Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange.
Dirty Harry: Dead Pool
I’m a big fan of Clint Eastwood, and the Dirty Harry franchise is one for the ages. I love the 1971 original, Magnum Force and Sudden Impact are both classics and even The Enforcer, the series’ uneven third instalment, is still worth its 96 minute run. Unfortunately, the series crapped out with its fifth and final instalment, the 1988 film The Dead Pool, which involves Harry trying to catch a serial killer who is murdering some of Hollywood’s D-list celebs. The plot is goofy, the script is bad, and the action sequences are half-assed. Eastwood seems like he’s kinda phoning it in throughout most of it. On the upside, Liam Neeson plays a scuzzy music video director with a ponytail (quite the far cry from his goon-squashing CIA operative in Taken). You also get to see Harry shoot someone with a harpoon gun, so that’s not nothing.
Sicaro: Day of the Soldado
Before he became the prestige resurrector of classic science fiction films, Denis Villeneuve directed a number of great thrillers, the best of which was the 2015 movie Sicario, about an FBI agent (played by Emily Blunt) who gets wrapped up in an investigation involving the cartels and is whisked across the border to explore the dark, violent world of the Mexican drug war. The film is a blend of political thriller, character study, and action film, and it works really beautifully. Unfortunately, its sequel, Day of the Soldado, takes the same premise and basically makes a parody of the original. Is the film still entertaining? Yes. Is it dumber? Also yes. Did the film’s screenwriter, Taylor Sheridan, phone in the story for a fat paycheck? I’m not going to accuse him of anything but…uh…you can watch the movie and decide for yourself. Or don’t.
The original 1994 Speed is great: Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock are on a bus with a bomb strapped to it and they can’t slow down or it’ll explode. It’s a simple, stupid, and deeply enjoyable premise.
The 1997 sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control, isn’t so lucky. In it, Keanu has been replaced by Jason Patric and the bus has been replaced by a boat. Bullock is still around, and she and Patric are on a luxury cruise ship headed to the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the boat is hijacked by the film’s villain, Gieger, played by Willem Dafoe, who programs the boat to crash into an oil tanker. While that might sounds like a fun premise, the movie still sucks. Critics noted that placing the story on a slow-moving boat wasn’t quite as exciting as a bus careening through the streets of L.A. The film won a slew of Raspberries and has rightfully been considered one of the worst sequels ever.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Long before he slapped the shit out of Chris Rock, Will Smith slapped the shit out of an alien in the 1996 classic Independence Day. After knocking out the extraterrestrial with merely his fist, Smith then sits down, lights up a cigar, and says, “Now that’s what I call a close encounter.” In short: when this movie first came out, it was pretty much the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Mind you, I was in elementary school. But I still think it’s cool today. For those who don’t know: the plot involves an invasion of Earth by legions of alien spacecraft. Mayhem, terror, and lots of explosions ensue.
Unfortunately, the film’s director, Roland Emmerich, tried the same trick again 20 years later with the 2016 Independence Day: Resurgence, the likes of which really, really sucked. Will Smith wisely ducked out of this one, though other original cast members like Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman stuck around. All the fun and vigour of the original is gone. The visuals are cool, but, overall, the film is somehow a giant downer. And boring. Boo!