Film Review: Bad Boys for Life

Frances Winston reviews the latest Bad Boys movie

Directed by: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah – Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Núñez, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam, Joe Pantoliano

The title to this is somewhat misleading. With the last Bad Boys movie being released 17 years ago (yes really) it’s safe to say that neither Smith nor Lawrence quite qualify as ‘boys’ anymore. Indeed, this is the brunt of many of the jokes in this threequel.

The first two movies were big hits, helped in no small part by the combination of humour and action, and also the chemistry between the leads. The good news is that Smith and Lawrence are still a dynamic duo, and bounce off each other brilliantly. As for the other elements – well, they are there, although some of the humour doesn’t land, and more than a few of the action-scenes look a bit hokey, and as if they were adapted to allow for the age of the leading men.

Nostalgia fans will only put so many bums on seats, therefore many people viewing this will never have seen a Bad Boys movie. But don’t worry. The story doesn’t hinge on knowing the entire genesis of the franchise, and any gaps are filled in without too much awkwardness.

As if acknowledging the age of the leads, this opens with a high-octane car scene, which sees Lowrey (Smith) and Burnett (Lawrence) arriving at a hospital, so Burnett can meet his first grandchild. After an attempt is made on Lowrey’s life, Burnett decides that he doesn’t want to be in such a high-risk role anymore, and retires. But he gets sucked back into the world of crime-solving, when Lowrey discovers the truth about his would-be assassin, and ropes Burnett in to help bring them down.

This isn’t rewriting the rule book. They have employed some new younger supporting cast-members, but this is very much the Smith and Lawrence show. The story is not as high-octane as previous offerings – perhaps a testament to their ages, or maybe to changing styles – but it is as OTT and silly as you would expect. However, this works, as you somewhat expect that from these kinds of movies.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of Bad Boys, and this was your introduction, you wouldn’t be disappointed. It is a 124 minute romp. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and unlike many franchises who stage comebacks after a lengthy period away, it doesn’t remain stuck in its groove, and has evolved the characters and the story.

Extremely silly in parts, but also good fun, this is a worthy addition to the Bad Boys canon (and the cop buddy movie genre) and an entertaining popcorn movie.

If you want a break from all the ‘worthy’ films flooding into cinemas this award-season, this could be just the ticket.

In Cinemas Now!

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The new LGBT magazine; available online, for download and on podcast. It's time for another view.
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