Bad Boys for Life

 

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Jerry Bruckheimer, the purveyor of fast-food action, is back with another noisy, overblown MTV-styled shoot-‘em-up.

 

Bad Boys for Life

Till death us do part: Martin Lawrene and Will Smith

 

It really is a life sentence. Touted as the final chapter in what has emerged as a trilogy, Bad Boys for Life ends on a cliffhanger, suggesting there is more to come. The last film, released in 2003, was a sad echo of the first, being a mindless, shapeless, headache-inducing shambles. Cut forward seventeen years. The Miami narcotics agent played by Martin Lawrence, Marcus Burnett, is now an overweight, short-sighted grandfather and he wants out. However, his partner of twenty-five years, Mike Lowrey (Will Smith), feels betrayed, as they had vowed to be “bad boys for life.” Lowrey is still a superfit playboy who enjoys life in the fast lane. So, what’s a sequel to do? Well, when Lowrey is shot down in cold blood, absurdity comes to the rescue…

 

Whilst Bad Boys for Life is helmed by the Belgian duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah – who are in line to direct Beverly Hills Cop 4 – the film is every inch the work of its producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Bruckheimer’s default preference is for star names, big explosions, cartoon violence, fast machines, snappy one-liners and a pounding soundtrack. It’s a formula that has served him well at the box-office, with such hits as Top Gun, Armageddon, Beverly Hills Cop, The Rock and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Even a gastronome fancies a hamburger occasionally, but the junk food dished up here feels like it’s been processed by a 3D printer.

 

Will Smith, who gets a producer credit, should know better. Not only is he recycling a pat variation of his old persona, he’s privy to a plot device ripped straight out of his 2019 action-thriller Gemini Man. And the badinage between him and Lawrence is not worth the hard drive it’s stored on. When Marcus relays the tired old chestnut, “there’s no ‘i’ in ‘team’,” Lowrey responds, “there is an ‘i’ in dickhead.” Yes, it’s that funny. And the checklist of explosions, nick-of-time escapes and disposable characters gets wearisome very, very quickly. It’s big, broad and banal – and is indistinguishable from any number of buddy-cop actioners you’ll find parked on the TV in the early hours.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Núñez, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam, Joe Pantoliano, Theresa Randle, Michael Bay.

 

Dir Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Pro Jerry Bruckheimer, Will Smith and Doug Belgrad, Screenplay Chris Bremner, Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan, Ph Robrecht Heyvaert, Pro Des Jon Billington, Ed Dan Lebental and Peter McNulty, Music Lorne Balfe, Costumes Dayna Pink.

 

Columbia Pictures/Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films/2.0 Entertainment/Overbrook Entertainment/Columbia Pictures Mexico-Sony Pictures.

123 mins. USA/Mexico. 2020. Rel: 17 January 2020. Cert. 15.