Bad Boys for Life

Bad Boys For Life
Bad Boys For Life
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The nineties buddy cop duo that is the definitive one of its kind come back for their third round of melodrama, banter, and bullets. Bad Boys for Life keeps being likable with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. The film takes itself much more seriously than any other installment so far. Their motto of “ride together, die together” hits harder than it did in the Michael Bay directed prequels. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah bring a darker tone to the Belgian action melee. It works most of the time, but not always. Fans will love Bad Boys for Life in all likelihood. Casual viewers may be tired of the shtick by now, but they’ll get plenty of explosions and car chases.

Bad Boys for Life catches up with Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) celebrating two big events: 25 years together on the force and Marcus’ new grandson. The happy occasions bring the police family — led by Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) and a new crew of detectives (Paola Núñez, Vanessa Hudgens) — together to celebrate at a swanky party. The night is shattered by tragedy when an enemy thought to be long buried shows up looking for revenge.

A diabolical Mexican cartel boss (Kate del Castillo) has escaped from prison south of the border; she sends her ruthless son (Jacob Scipio) on a mission to take back their business and make an example out of Mike Lowrey while he’s at it. As the Miami Police Department reels from these brutal attacks, Mike and Marcus must confront a new reality: Marcus wants to retire because he’s done risking his life every day; Mike wants blood because he’s still grieving over what happened between him and Isabel Aretas. These partners have never been tested like this before — but they’ve always got each other’s backs.

Bad Boys for Life has a body count. Both good guys and bad guys are dropping like flies. The higher stakes of this entry lead to a serious reckoning for our heroes: Is it really worth dying for the cause? The script, which was co-written by action maestro Joe Carnahan (Narc, The A-Team), wants there to be consequences for all that gunplay. The darker tone initially works, but then it becomes bogged down in sappy melodrama. I’ll give El Arbi and Fallah (Snowfall) credit for trying to have a more meaty plot than just “cops shoot people.” It just needed to be more concise and impactful.

There’s a lot of fan service in Bad Boys for Life — maybe too much. Various classic scenes and characters from the first two films are brought back here, some more cleverly and funnily than others. Most of the nostalgia feels like reheating leftovers from earlier in the franchise’s history; after all, it’s been 17 years since we last saw these guys on screen together. We don’t need to keep going back to that well.

Bad Boys for Life also has several plot twists that you’ll see coming from a mile away. Luckily, those predictable reveals are offset by how great Smith and Lawrence are together as leads — they’re basically an old married couple at this point in their careers, so they settle into a bickering groove that provides many of the film’s laughs. This is especially necessary given how heavy the storyline gets at times; some may argue their schtick walks right up to being annoying without actually crossing over into it, but hey: It keeps the movie moving when things start dragging along toward the end!

As an action film, Bad Boys for Life needs to be considered. El Arbi and Fallah do not break new ground, but they offer enough sequences that will keep your heart pounding. Michael Bay has poured it on like a firehose; he lost sight of character development. This third installment gives older, more seasoned protagonists to a fault. They do not blow up as much stuff, but they’re still cooking with gasoline. A decent fix is what action junkies will get.

Bad Boys for Life marks the end of an era and the beginning of something new. Stick around during the credits to see where the franchise is going next—I have a feeling it won’t be another near twenty year wait for the sequel.Bad Boys for Life is a production of Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckeimer films, Overbrook Entertainment, and Columbia Pictures with distribution by Sony.

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