Are Bad Boys for Life?

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back for a third instalment in the quip, quip, bang, bang series of Bad Boys movies in Bad Boys For Life.

Joining the long lineage of movies such as Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop, the original team are back but looking a little longer in the tooth, and that forms part of the narrative as the bad boys feel the long arm of time reaching out for them. However, time hasn’t been kind, where the first two Bad Boys movies raced along leaving wrecked cars and fast-paced gags in their wake, this latest outing – despite having its moments – is a far more pedestrian affair.

Will Smith, a fully formed movie star, sleepwalks as Mike Lowrey through the film. Charming as he is, even charming a baby back to sleep, he lacks the zip you would expect. Martin Lawrence likewise has misplaced his snap, not at all helped by a lacklustre script that should have been returned to the four writers for an upgrade and turbocharge. So, Marcus Burnett isn’t given much to work with as a foil to Lowrey.

The emotional beats are shallow and despite giving Will Smith the red meat to chew on, issues of lost love, getting older and real family are fumbled amongst flying bullets and smashing cars.

Thankfully, female roles in the movie are to the fore, and much ass is kicked with Paola Nunez and Vanessa Hudgens clearly having a fine time. Kate del Castillo really gets to grip with her role as the evil Isabel Aretas, with a genuinely shocking violent entrance and menace throughout. The ever-reliable Joe Pantoliano injects some grown-up acting and acts as a foundation as the detectives’ long-suffering captain.

In the end though, this feels like a slightly cynical exercise in filmmaker revenue generation rather than a free-wheeling romp through Miami but fans of the franchise need not worry, it’s quite clear the door is wide open for a fourth episode. Generally, odd number sequels exceed expectations but while the Bad Boys continue to ride, and the visuals are rich, the wheels are definitely a bit wobbly on this one.

Reviewed by Mike Hales

3 stars