Bad Boys is a troubling and often riveting drama about juvenile delinquency. Director Rick Rosenthal does a topnotch job of bringing to life the seedy, hopeless environment of a jail for juvenile offenders and has gotten some terribly convincing performances from his young cast, notably topliner Sean Penn.
From the first scene where 16-year-old tough guy Penn breaks the window of a car and steals a woman’s purse, it’s clear this is not going to be the picture of youth most people are used to.
Penn’s only safety is in the love of girlfriend Ally Sheedy, the one person who has ever seemingly seen the softer side of his nature.
It is in jail that the film really takes off, pitting Penn against the abuses of his fellow inmates and the inherent hopelessness of his situation.
Penn is nothing short of terrific in the key role, which, given a minimal amount of dialog, calls for him to rely primarily on his emotional and physical abilities.