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Bad Boys for Life

By Dwight Brown | NNPA News Wire Film Critic | 1/16/2020, 4:47 p.m.
They first teamed up for Bad Boys in 1995, to great...
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence

They first teamed up for Bad Boys in 1995, to great box office success. There was an encore in 2003, Bad Boys II, which was distinguished by incredible stunts. Now, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence go back to the same well one more time. Is there any water left?

Michael Bay (Transformers, Armageddon) directed the first two films, with an over-the-top, over-produced style that seems dated by today’s standards. The smartest choice franchise producer Jerry Bruckheimer made was to hire two new young directors to guide the series into the 2020s. Moroccan-born Belgian filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Black, Gangsta) put their own spin on the footage aided by cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert (Black, Gangsta). What’s on view looks like an ultra-hip extended music video that captures your eyeballs and takes them hostage.

A sporty looking, deep blue 992-Generation Porsche speeds through the streets of sunny Miami. If a reckless twentysomething was behind the wheel, you’d call the car a chick magnet. Instead it’s 51-year-old Detective Mike Lowrey (Smith) steering the vehicle with his lead foot on the accelerator. In his hands the sports car is more a middle-ager’s last grasp at youth. Lowrey’s 54-year-old partner Detective Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) sits petrified in the passenger seat, holding on for dear life and nauseated by the hyper-dangerous ride.

Burnett: “I’m about to throw up.” Lowrey: “You better not. That’s hand-stitched Italian leather. You better drink that s—t!” And so, it begins. Edge of your seat action scenes, perfectly shot. Thrills and chills. Two old friends: One, a swinger, clearly still in the game. The other, a family man a whisper away from retirement with an accountant’s nervous stomach and no love left for a cop’s perilous life.

According to the blueprint drawn by screenwriters Chris Bremner, Peter Craig (The Town) and Joe Carnahan (Narc, TV’s The Blacklist), this is how the film will play out: A plot involving revenge from a former Mexican assailant Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo, All About Nina) and her minion (Jacob Scipio, Hunter Killer) evolves. Assassinations of lawyers and judges rain down on Miami like a summer storm.

A new police unit named AMMO takes charge of the investigation, headed by a tough captain named Rita (Paola Nuñez, TV’s The Purge) and her elite group: tech wizard Dorn (Alexander Ludwig, The Hunger Games), weapons expert Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens, Spring Breakers) and the very sarcastic Rafe (Charles Melton, TV’s Riverdale). Can they do the job? Will Mike and Marcus hurt or help them?

Subtly and brazenly, in humor and family drama, the script rips into the ages of the two protagonists like someone pouring salt on an open wound. The “boys” have lost a few steps and added gray hairs industrial strength Grecian Formula can’t fix. The contrasts between the veterans and the new justice league gets played for laughs persistently, especially between Smith and Melton.

Though the script is solid in most aspects, its dialogue, its rapid-fire banter is its strongest asset. When Smith and Lawrence exchange verbal jabs nothing is off the table. Viagra, becoming a grandparent, the last time either one had sex... The two are extremely competitive and well aware that father time could beat them in a foot race.