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'Bad Boys for Life' reignites buddy cop genre for big laughs, thrills

Phil on Film
Posted at 10:07 PM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-17 10:11:42-05

Movies in the vein of "Bad Boys" are all but extinct, or at least relegated to the TBS rotation. That's why the old-fashioned ways of "Bad Boys Forever," the long-distance third film in the franchise, seem so fresh and vibrant. They don't make 'em like this anymore.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence slip into the roles of detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Bennett like a comfy pair of old slippers. Their magnetic chemistry yields crackling banter, spontaneous roats and thrilling criminal takedowns.

These guys are proud graduates of the Riggs & Murtaugh police academy. With one-liners pre-loaded with as much ammo as their sidearms, they shoot first, ask questions never and don't mind laying waste to entire city blocks in pursuit of bad guys.

For Mike and Marcus, the car chase is as common form of transportation as an Uber ride is for others. And if there is ever a helicopter near them, rest assured that it will blow up.

The tone plays things right by occasionally acknowledging the age of the actors without obsessing over it. These Bad Boys may have lost a step and spend as much on hair dye and ED pills as they once did on booze and fast cars, but they're still more than capable of taking on any crime lords who stalk the Miami streets.

Directors Adil El Rabi and Bilall Fallah ably replace Michael Bay, who directed the first two films in 1995 and 2003. Never letting their feet off the gas, the film keeps the adrenaline, verbal jabs and gunfire flowing.

The plot, which at first seems like a throwaway set in place just to send Mike and Marcus on one last adventure, packs a couple emotionally resonant, if thoroughly predictable, twists. Trigger-happy drug lord Jacob Scipio (Armando Armas) -- mentored by a mystical villainess played by Kate del Castillo- is out to take down everyone in the justice system he holds responsible for the death of a loved one, and Mike and Marcus end up squarely in his crosshairs.

At the core of it all is the tight bond between the two men, who have been through wars together and manage to look back and laugh at themselves. It's easy to laugh with them, and even though it's tough to believe they're ever in any real danger, the dramatic flourishes make it fun to celebrate with them when they make it through one daunting standoff after the next.

It doesn't take much for Lawrence and Smith to snap back into old form, shedding the decades as they click into the groove of first two movies. This film is every bit the guilty pleasure of those.

So whatchu gonna do when they come for you? My advice is to buy a ticket, kick back and enjoy the ride. You may know exactly where it's going, but that doesn't sap away any of the fun.

RATING: 3 stars out of 4.

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