‘Bad Boys For Life’ Review: The Franchise Continues to Ride, Refuses to Die

They definitely should have saved the title for the inevitable fourth one.

Mike Lowery (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) return when an old enemy (who is presumably related to one of the earlier films) seeks vengeance against the middle-aged cops. Can they overcome the usual hurdles of getting older and having cliched family roles to engage in enough awkwardly filmed gunfights to finally defeat the baddie? More time than you’d expect will tell.

I’m no fan of Michael Bay’s style of shooting action but this is a poor imitation. The action in Bad Boys 2 may have been garish and borderline incomprehensible but it was ambitious and inventive. Sequences involving slow motion or a 360° tracking shot kept the endless gunfights interesting. Even just ripping off the opening to Police Story demonstrated some interest in doing more than just filming people shooting then taking cover and repeating until one side is dead.

The film also borrows Bay’s one fits all approach to camera work which ensures that comedic moments feel as awkward and overwrought as the emotional beats. Smith and Lawrence still have good chemistry but the script is more of the same. It’s cliched and dull. One wants to retire, the other wants vengeance. It’s a dynamic that’s at least forty years old, and the lazy attempts at humour do little to invigorate dialogue between the two. The humour is less impressively uncomfortable than in a Michael Bay film, but it’s also less memorable and crucially not funny.

Bad Boys for Life feels like the smallest bad boys film yet and the film pays mere lip service to the dated politics and feel of the format.

Two Stars

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