Already this year, Netflix has given subscribers a bunch of new comedies to explore, from the 90s high school comedy Can’t Hardly Wait, to the Apatow-produced greatness of Superbad. On January 1st, Netflix also debuted Blue Streak, the 1999 comedy starring Martin Lawrence that solidified the actor as a comedian who could draw audiences on his own.
Martin Lawrence stars as Miles Logan, a jewel thief who hides a massive diamond in a building under construction before he is caught and sent to jail for two years. When he is freed, he discovers that he hid the diamond in a police building. In order to reclaim the diamond, Logan poses as an LAPD detective.
In addition to Martin Lawrence, Blue Streak featured an impressive cast, full of actors who had yet to have their big break. Luke Wilson played Carson, Logan’s oblivious detective partner who has no idea what Logan is up to. A young Dave Chappelle appeared, only a year after his appearance in Half Baked. The film also featured John Hawkes, who has since been nominated for an Oscar for his role in Winter’s Bone, and Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for her performance in The Help, and has been further been nominated for her work in Hidden Figures and The Shape of Water.
But before Blue Streak, Martin Lawrence was always the comedic partner to some other actor. He starred alongside Will Smith in 1995’s Bad Boys, with Tim Robbins in 1997’s Nothing to Lose, and with Eddie Murphy in 1999’s Life. But with Blue Streak, Lawrence proved that he didn’t need a partner, that he could hold a film on his own. This was especially true in the popular Big Momma’s House, which came out the next year in 2000. Since then, Lawrence has been the sole comedic lead in films like Black Knight, Rebound, Big Momma’s House 2, and College Road Trip.
Blue Streak came out in mid-September and opened at #1 with a $19 million weekend. The film ended up making $68 million domestically, and $117 million worldwide. However, considering the film had a budget of $65 million, it’s not a surprise that the film didn’t receive a sequel. There were originally plans for a sequel, but the film’s script was supposedly repurposed to make Bad Company, replacing Martin Lawrence and Luke Wilson with Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock.
Blue Streak wasn’t a critical success though, as the film currently has a 36% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 46 on Metacritic. In the review of Blue Streak for Variety, critic Robert Koehler said “In the wake of a summer of capers and cons, Blue Streak arrives as a dull afterthought and a sorry vehicle for the comic expression of Martin Lawrence.” Yet as a comedy released in the post-summer doldrums, Blue Streak did remarkably well commercially, and its soundtrack, with artists like Jay-Z, Keith Sweat, and Ja Rule, went platinum.
Blue Streak might not have been as critically successful or commercially successful to the point that would warrant a sequel, but as an early example of Martin Lawrence’s ability to launch a film on his own, Blue Streak is one of Lawrence’s best.