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Bad Boys For Life - DVD Review

Bad Boys For Life

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THE plot may contain more holes than many of the bullet-riddled corpses Will Smith and Martin Lawrence leave in their wake but Bad Boys for Life, the belated third film in the action franchise, proves to be something of a blast.

Arriving a massive 17 years after Michael Bay’s poorly received [but admittedly guilty pleasure] Bad Boys II, this finds the double act at the centre of proceedings on tip-top form, with some suitably slick pyrotechnics to match.

Belgian duo Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah replace Bay [who cameos] in the director’s chair and bring plenty of style, riffing on some classic Bad Boys moments of the past while freshening up the format too. Hence, there are self-aware nods towards the ageing machismo of the central players, as well as a push and pull between gung-ho, shoot first politics and something a little more balanced.

They even manage to find room for some emotion, with the early stuff in particular carrying more dramatic weight than is usual for a Bad Boys movie.

Where the film falls down is in its final third, when the shortcomings of the script – co-written by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan – give rise to an unnecessary twist designed to raise the stakes, but which feels highly contrived and strains credibility in the emotional stakes.

If anything, it feels more derivative of Will Smith’s last action misfire, Gemini Man, which employed a similarly unconvincing and poorly thought through emotional tussle as its central premise.

Up until that point, though, Bad Boys For Life offers up everything you could have possibly hoped for in such a long-in-the-making follow-up.

The plot picks up as Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) once again contemplates retirement after becoming a grandfather for the first time, only to find that his partner, Mike Lowrey (Smith) needs him more than ever, having been targeted for death by a vengeful Mexican drug lord (Kate del Castillo) and her unstoppable son (Jacob Scipio).

The ensuing film strikes a mostly successful balance between the action and the comedy, with the banter between Smith and Lawrence delivering plenty of laughs. The set-pieces, meanwhile, are suitably muscular and over the top, weaving in some nice references to past sequences, while clearly mindful of the new benchmarks set by the likes of the Mission: Impossible movies.

The handful of dramatic moments that punctuate proceedings, especially early on, are also a nice surprise, allowing room for some vulnerability and character development that enhance the overall enjoyment.

Indeed, such is the enjoyment offered by the first two thirds of proceedings, that it’s easy to overlook some of the more galling elements of the overblown finale. It makes the prospect of the seemingly inevitable fourth entry into the franchise something to look forward to rather than dread.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 4mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: May 25, 2020