Combustible Celluloid
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With: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Paola Nuñez, Alexander Ludwig, Vanessa Hudgens, Charles Melton, Jacob Scipio, Joe Pantoliano, Kate del Castillo, DJ Khaled, Nicky Jam, Theresa Randle, Massi Furlan
Written by: Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, Joe Carnahan
Directed by: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, sexual references and brief drug use
Running Time: 123
Date: 01/17/2020

Bad Boys for Life (2020)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Low 'Life'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Miami narcotics detectives Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) may not be boys anymore, but the "bad" part still applies.

Bad Boys for Life, which opens Friday in Bay Area theaters, is the third movie in this series that began with Bad Boys in 1995 and left off with Bad Boys II in 2003. Those movies are today old enough to drink and drive, respectively.

Now our boys are in their fifties. Marcus wants to retire, and he probably ought to, given that he appears to be in constant physical pain and can hardly move. Even his comic timing is sluggish, and his barrage of "s-bombs," consistently miss their targets.

But Mike wants to keep being a cop, at least until the wife (Kate del Castillo) of a drug lord he caught 25 years ago attempts to get her revenge.

Thankfully, a younger, computer-savvy squad of cops (Paola Nuñez, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, and Charles Melton) is on hand to help.

And, yes, there are many more chases and shootouts, and more bickering between Smith and Lawrence.

Belgian filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah take over for former series director Michael Bay, but keep to his style of blasted noise and rattling chaos, wherein the logic of a scene matters less than how big it is.

It can be maddening to try and follow the movie's inconsistencies, the haywire spatial and chronological logic of this movie, such as the heroes magically catching up to their escaping quarries after a long head-start. Nothing makes any sense.

At least Smith puts his movie star skills to good work and manages to sell a few of his one-liners and heartfelt speeches. But he can't always sell the idea that he wants to be there, or cares about any of the other thinly-drawn characters.

As this long, 123-minute movie wraps up, the phrase "for life" begins to sound uneasily like a sentence.

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