By: John M Jerva

REVIEW: Bad Boys For Life

STARRING: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Paola Nuñez, Vanessa Hudgens, Charles Melton, Alexander Ludwig, Kate del Castillo, Jacob Scipio and Joe Pantoliano

DIRECTED BY: Adil and Bilal

Offical Synopsis: Marcus and Mike have to confront new issues (career changes and midlife crises), as they join the newly created elite team AMMO of the Miami police department to take down the ruthless Armando Armas, the vicious leader of a Miami drug cartel.

THE REVIEW: After a long development process which saw th changing of directors, the long awaited third entry in the Bad Boys franchise finally hit theaters last week after a 17 year hiatus and the wait was well worth it. The film had been in development forever and Joe Carnahan had been attached to direct at one time but dropped out due to the delay to which the directing team of Adil and Bilal swooped in and they have delivered the best entry in the series yet. Carnahan did write the screenplay however. Watching the film was like reuniting with two long lost friends with a lot of firepower, explosions and jokes. Stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence may be older now but they haven’t lost a step even if their characters of Mike Lowry and Marcus Burnett might have.

Still serving and protecting after all these years, Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) is seriously thinking about retiring from the force ( no, seriously this time) but when his best friend and partner Mike Lowry (Smith) gets gunned down on the streets of Miami, all things are a go for one of the best buddy action films ever. Now, of course, Mike survives his ordeal but we learn that an undercover case from the past has come back to haunt him as a ruthless drug cartel run by Isabel Aretas and her son Armando have put Mike and others in the cross hairs for the death of her husband. Now these old dogs must team up with a newer generation of cops and must learn some new tricks to bring them down and survive the most dangerous case of their lives.

1995’s Bad Boys and its sequel Bad Boys 2 which came out in 2003 have always been two of my favorite buddy cop series second only to the Lethal Weapon films and here we are treated to the same great one liners from our two stars as well as phenominal action set pieces that would make former director Michael Bay, who does make an apearance in the movie, proud. It might not officially be “Bayhem” but directing duo Adil and Bilal certainly do their best to honor Bay and the other two films. Watching the film, you would think that Bay did indeed direct this one as well.

The films, including this one, only work because of the chemistry of its two stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. The two struck gold with the original film and here, even though its 25 years later, they are on top of their comedic and action games once again. I will say that this third entry is definitely darker than the previous installments but make no mistake, the comedy and terrific action set pieces are still there. Smith and Lawrence are just so comfortable with each other onscreen that you would think that they are related and grew up together. They’re that good as a duo and it bodes well for audiences who will eat this one up just like the other two.

What makes the third film really shine is that it remembers the other films and gives a little nod that fans will relate to. One of the best examples of this is that Reggie, who came to pick Marcus’ daughter up for a date in one of the second film’s most hilarious scenes, is still around and he and Marcus’ daughter are about to give birth to their first child. As soon as I saw him onscreen, I laughed as I recognized him right away and Smith and Lawrence give him the business just like they did 17 years earlier. A truly wonderful nod for fans who have been there since the beginning.

Joe Pantoliano is back also as the hilarious Captain Howard and he is just as much hysrerical here as he was before. Pantoliano owns the role and is clearly one of the best film police captains ever as he trades comedic blows with the two stars with flourishing results. He may yell like every other movie captain but we still love him all the same.

With this entry, we get some fresh blood in a new team of hot shot young cops who have formed a new elite unit called AMMO run by Rita (Nunuwz). They conisist of Kelly (Hudgens), Rafe (Melton) and Dorn (Ludwig) the tech savy member who just might be the team’s most lethal weapon (no pun intended). Adding these four into the mix could have been disasterous but they play off Smith and Lawrence and hold their own in the film’s many comedic scenes and action sequences.

On villain duties is Kate del Castillo who plays the ruthless Isabel Aretas who shares a secret past with Lowry and wants him dead at all costs. To do this she uses her lethally skilled son Armando played by Jacob Scipio who really impressed me in his fight scenes. There’s one scene early on that is really kick ass as he dispatches a crew of thugs with bladed weapons in fine and deadly form. I was really impressed with his moves and he excels after that even more in a very physical role. Castillo is more than a one layered villain and she brings a great deal of gravitas to her role as the evil Isabel.

Make no mistake though, this is Smith and Lawrence’s show as well it should be and even though they may have slowed down a little, they are still two of the best Miami has to offer. There’s great running gags on how Marcus needs glasses and doesn’t want to use violence anymore and the fact that Mike can’t beat him in a foot race anymore but it also deals seriously with the fact that they aren’t who they used to be. But when the time comes, these Bad Boys rise to the occasion one more time.

Another real star of the film is the action and director Adil and Bilal really do their best Michale Bay impression with a series of high-octane sequences that blows up a lot of the Miami streets per usual. The highlight is the finale when our Bad Boys and AMMO take on the cartel in a blistering shoot out that features some truly nifty camera work and angles. It is a brutal and beautiful display of gunfire and mayhem that features the destruction of a helicopter in rather epic fashion. It’s almost as if Adil and Bilal are winking at the audience and daring us to find a difference between their scenes and Bay’s. I for one was immensley impressed and enjoyed every minute.

One a down note, like I said, this one is a bit darker then the other two and the comedy does take a back seat at times to the drama but I thought it was fitting for the type of film it was and the message it was conveying although some fans might be upset that the jokes aren’t relentless.

There are some twists and turns that enhnace he story also and I won’t get into any spoilers here but there is one that concerns Mke that makes the finale even more daring and dramatic and I loved the after credit scene also and am very excited to see where they go from here with Bad Boys 4 which is already in development. Think Jason Statham in the Fast and Furious films. That’s all I’ll say on that.

All in all, Bad Boys for Life is the best in thes series and Smith and Lawrence, although world weary, are still just as sharp as ever and the new cast additions only enhance the comedy and action. Diretors Adil and Bilal really demonstrate their flair for action and I do hope that they return to helm the fourth installment. Lowry and Burnett are back and business is good. It’s time to ride together and die together people as Bad Boys for Life is a solid addition to this great action/comedy franchise. Whatya Gonna Do? It’s simple. Go see this film!

VERDICT: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

ACTION-FLIX APPROVED!!

About The Author: John M Jerva is the owner and editor-in-chief of Action-Flix.com and is a DIE HARD fan of everyhting Action! From the glorious past to the thrilling future, John lives and breathes action!

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