bad boys for life

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star in 'Bad Boys for Life.'

The newest installment in the popular buddy-cop franchise, “Bad Boys For Life” premiered in theaters on Jan. 17th.

Directed by Belgian duo Adil El Arbi and Bilail Fallah, the film saw the return of stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as Miami detectives Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett, who face arguably their greatest challenge yet.

Set 17 years after “Bad Boys II”, Lowery and Burnett are contemplating their futures after nearly 25 years with the Miami Police Department. Marcus has recently welcomed his first grandchild, leading him to reevaluate his life and choose between his family or his career. When he does settle on retirement, Mike tries to change his mind but fails.

While the pair disagree, a mysterious assassin arrives in Miami and begins a killing spree, forcing Lowery and Burnett to put aside their differences for one last ride.

The film does a wonderful job of attempting to blend action and comedy, as was the case with the previous installments. Smith and Lawrence pick up right where they left off with their characters, giving believable performances.

There are plenty of references to the previous films hidden throughout, which will earn a few laughs if you can pick up on them.

Several cast members from the previous films also make their return, including Joe Pantoliano as Captain Howard, Mike and Marcus’ commanding officer, as well as Theresa Randle, who plays Marcus’ wife Theresa.

Like many recent action movies that feature older stars, “Bad Boys For Life” introduces new, younger characters with a more different approach to tackling crime, which bumps heads with the more hands-on style of their elders. New additions include Vanessa Hudgens as Kelly, Alexander Ludwig as Dom and Charles Melton as Rafe, who together form a tech-driven special investigation unit known as AMMO.

One of the criticisms of the film is the way it attempts to involve the audience in the emotional stakes of the story for Mike and Marcus. It doesn’t really come off in a “bro-mantic” way, but more of an earnest lament between two men who are trying to come to terms with the new world they live in.

While the attempt to humanize these characters is appreciated, it may seem a little too late given the span of time in between films. Smith and Lawrence do manage to pull off the emotional contrast between their characters well, however.

The action sequences are well-executed, and Arbi and Fallah’s direction makes them seem more inventive than those from Michael Bay, who directed the first two films. Audience members may find themselves on the edge of their seat during these scenes.

The characters from AMMO could have been expanded upon a little more, seeing as how the actors playing them are decently experienced.

Overall, Bad Boys For Life breathes new life into the buddy comedy movie, which may come across as formulaic. It incorporates elements of action and thriller films to create a rollercoaster ride of laughs and gasps, honoring its predecessors while adding a slight human touch.

RATING- 4 out of 5 stars.

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