[Screen It]


(2020) (Will Smith, Martin Lawrence) (R)

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Action/Comedy: A long-time cop duo must contend with a woman who wants to get revenge on those who wronged her in the past, including one of those detectives.
With nearly twenty-five years of being cop partners, Detective Mike Lowrey (WILL SMITH) and Detective Marcus Burnett (MARTIN LAWRENCE) are looking toward the future in decidedly different ways. Having just become a grandfather, Marcus is looking to retire and spend time with his growing family, something that Mike, a single man, can't comprehend. With their usual comic bickering, the two detectives decide to have a foot race that will determine if they retire or not. But as Mike is winning that, a gunman on a motorcycle shoots him repeatedly, nearly killing him.

Six months later, Mike is mostly healed and wants to work his own case, something that Marcus, who's now retired, thinks is a bad idea, which also holds true for their commanding officer, Captain Howard (JOE PANTOLIANO). But he does allow Mike to be an advisor to a new unit in the division called AMMO (Advance Miami Metro Operations ) that's now run by Mike's ex-flame, Rita (PAOLA NUNEZ). He doesn't think that team -- that includes the likes of Dorn (ALEXANDER LUDWIG) and Kelly (VANESSA HUDGENS) -- will be able to crack the case while another member of the team, Rafe (CHARLES MELTON), views Mike as an out-of-touch old man.

Little do any of them realize that the mastermind behind Mike's shooting -- and the assassinations of other prominent figures -- is Isabel Aretas (KATE DEL CASTILLO) who's escaped from a Mexican prison and wants revenge on those who wronged her and her late husband and is using her assassin son, Armando (JACOB SCIPIO), to carry out the hits. And with a personal vendetta related to Mike, she wants him to die last.

OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
A long, long time ago in movie theaters not that far away, I possessed an encyclopedic memory of movies. Not just the plot and who appeared in them, but also the theaters in which I watched them. And that applied to big, memorable movies as well as smaller flicks most people have never heard of, let alone seen.

Nowadays? Eh, no so much. Be it age, having sat through thousands of mediocre to bad (and already forgettable) films to perhaps the lingering effects of having been accidentally knocked out during elementary school recess many, many moons ago just now showing up, I just don't possess that skill anymore.

Thus, as I took my seat to watch the third installment of what apparently has now become a trilogy, "Bad Boys For Life," I realized I don't recall anything about either of the earlier "Bad Boys" films outside of them starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as bickering cop partners. Even the related title song has permanently been assigned in my head to the reality TV show "Cops" from way back when.

Granted, the first BB movie hit movie screens a quarter of a century ago and its sequel eight years later, but you'd think some memory of either might still be lurking about somewhere north of my neck. Nope. Nada. Zilch.

So, anyone expecting comparisons to either or both films is out of luck and we'll proceed as if it's a standalone flick about two aging cops and some villains who want one of them dead. That certainly doesn't sound terribly original, now does it? Throw in one of them being teamed with a small unit of younger cops, lots of bang-bang action scenes and quick cutaways of fancy cars and skimpily attired bodies on the beaches down in southeast Florida and you could easily imagine you're watching Crocket and Tubbs back at it again with the maestro of mayhem Michael Bay at the helm.

Instead, Smith and Lawrence reprise their roles as detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett who are at odds about their respective futures. Mike wants to keep on keeping on, while Marcus, having just set eyes on his new grandchild, is all set for retirement. Before they can resolve that, an assassin rides up and opens fire on Mike, nearly killing him.

He's Armando (Jacob Scipio) the son of cartel widow Isabel Aritas (Kate Del Castillo) who's just escaped from prison and wants everyone in power who "wronged" her family to pay with their lives, eventually ending with Mike. After recovering, he wants in on the case, but his boss (Joe Pantoliano) says no and instead allows him to serve as an advisor to the small -- and oddly named -- AMMO (Advance Miami Metro Operations) team led by Mike's ex-flame, Rita (Paola Nunez).

But Mike's not one to sit back and just give helpful hints and thus he unofficially works on his own case in his own, not-by-the-books style. Marcus eventually rejoins him and the two exchange playful quips as they leave a wake of bodies in their quest to find out who's responsible.

The two stars are good together and have a decent, slightly antagonistic comedy relationship that serves the pic well. Co-directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah pick up the reins left off by Bay and don't miss a beat in delivering over-the-top action sequences. Those are decent, but having experienced the various "John Wick" flicks that excel at fun, jaw-dropping action, these feel fairly pedestrian in comparison. The same holds true for the underlying story as concocted by scribes Chris Bremner, Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan. You'd hope that with all of the intervening years some amazing plot could have been devised to take full advantage of the two leads' chemistry, but there's nothing here we haven't seen before.

Was I entertained at times? Sure, I'll cop to that. And should the film do well enough at the box office, I'm guessing there might be yet another sequel, or at least a hybrid one featuring some of the new characters and maybe a cameo by one or both stars. But even if there isn't another seventeen-year interval between this and that one, will I recall anything about "Bad Boys For Life?" Not likely, nor will anyone else, and thus it rates as a 4.5 out of 10.

Reviewed January 14, 2020 / Posted January 17, 2020

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