Prior to starring in the hard-edged 1983 drama Bad Boys
, Sean Penn had proven his early promise in the TV movie The Killing of Randy Webster
, played a memorable supporting role in Taps
(with fellow newcomer Tom Cruise), and created the definitive California surfer dude as the perpetually stoned Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High
. But it was Bad Boys
that cemented Penn's reputation as a rare talent--an actor whose skill transcended his youth, revealing a depth and maturity that the majority of his acting peers could only aspire to. That gravity and emotional dimension is evident throughout Penn's performance here as Mick O'Brien, a chronic offender whose path to a Chicago juvenile corrections facility seems utterly preordained. The institution is hardly conducive to reformation--it's a jail for problem kids, and a cauldron for all the societal ills that sent kids there in the first place. Mick's there because he was involved in a shootout during a botched robbery of drugs from rival street gangster Paco Moreno (Esai Morales), whose little brother was killed when Mick accidentally ran him over with his getaway car.
Overcrowding results in Mick and Paco's being sent to the same facility (one of the film's few stretches of credibility), and this leads to a rather predictable showdown that will take the juvie prison's violence to its inevitable extreme. It's a shame this conclusion ultimately doesn't live up to the film's superior first hour, but Bad Boys remains a remarkably authentic, even touching portrait of troubled youth whose torment is conveyed through thoughtful and richly emotional development of characters. Director Rick Rosenthal (who had previously helmed Halloween II) maintains a vivid sense of setting within the correctional facility's cold walls, and through the performances of Penn and a superb supporting cast (including Ally Sheedy in her film debut as Mick's girlfriend), Bad Boys emerges as one of the best films of its kind, forcing the viewer to ask difficult questions about at-risk youth and the proper way to improve or at least preserve their endangered lives. --Jeff Shannon
Academy Award(R) winner Sean Penn (2003, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Mystic River
) is Mick O'Brien, a young Chicago street thug torn between a life of petty crime and the love of his girlfriend (Ally Sheedy). But when the heist of a local drug dealer (Esai Morales) goes tragically wrong, Mick is sentenced to a brutal juvenile prison where violence is a rite of passage and respect is measured in vengeance. Can a bad boy on the edge of salvation find the heart to survive a manhood on the verge of murder? Reni Santoni, Clancy Brown and Eric Gurry costar in this gritty drama that sealed Sean Penn's reputation as the greatest young actor of his generation. Bad Boys
is presented complete and restored to its original theatrical format.