In Brief: This sequel 17-years after the last one is a lot of fun. That leads to a question. Is it okay to say bad boys are good?
I quickly lost count of the body count. It’s a bad boys movie. They have bodies to count. Lots of them. Bullets to count, too. The counting is accompanied by car chases, motorcycle chases, water chases and bunches of chases on foot and through buildings. All the while bullets are flying like flocks of birds and bad guys die in bunches while the bullets whizzing by the good guys, miss.
It’s the genre.
This is the third time Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have done Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. It’s 17-years since the last film and Burnett is now a grandfather and wants to retire. Lowrey does not. He loves being a bad boy. Then a Mexican thug on a mission guns him down. His mom wants vengeance for something Lowrey did to her and the boy’s father years ago.
That leads us back to the first paragraph.
Lowrey almost dies, wants to find out who tried to kill him, and joins the hunt done by a team led by lady detective who just “happens” to be his former lover. Burnett doesn’t want to go along but — hey — it wouldn’t be bad boy anything if he didn’t. So they go through recognizable and very predictable action movie territory to get to the bottom of who is killing whom and why.
Recognizable, predictable and fun. At least more fun than I remember from the 1995 and 2003 movies. Maybe I’m less of a cynic now than I was then. Maybe. Or maybe this is just a better movie. Whatever it is, and while very, very predictable, Bad Boys for Life isn’t bad.
Smith and Lawrence do what they both do best. Smith has one character and is the same from movie to movie. In action movies he’s the straight, serious and very skilled action hero. Lawrence has gained some weight and looks more marshmallow than action hero. He provides what is supposed to pass for comedy. Lawrence tries but he isn’t all that funny.
Never has been.
The real humor in Bad Boys for Life belongs to Joe Pantoliano who reprises his role as Captain Howard. Unfortunately, Pantoliano — who always brings a ton of energy to a part — isn’t in the movie that much or enough.
Transformers producer and director Michael Bay did the first two films but skips this one. The directing chores are done by relatively unknowns Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. They pad their film with lots of drone shots of Miami, slow and regular-motion scenery and lots of unnecessary scenes.
The key word is pad. A big part of the padding is a screenplay by a freshman writer and from Peter Craig who helped pen The Hunger Games: Mockingjay parts 1 and 2 and The Town and Joe Carnahan who co-wrote the most excellent Narc and Smokin’ Aces.
In spite of the length, Bad Boys for Life is entertaining. However, an edit by the directors to take the padding out makes it an even better film. Oh, back to Bay and the reason I mentioned him. There is going to be a fourth film. He’s directing.
So maybe we really do get bad boys for life.
Directors: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah
Stars: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano, Paola Nunez, Jacob Scipio, Vanessa Hudgens, Charles Melton, Alexander Ludwig, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam, DJ Khaled
Not bad for a cop buddy movie, and really not too bad for a third film. Give this one a 4 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0-to-5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.