Directors: Adil and Bilall
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Alexander Ludwig, Vanessa Hudgens, Paola Nuñez, Charles Melton, Kate del Castillo, Jacob Scipio and Joe Pantoliano
Run time: 2h 3m
The bad boys are coming for you a third time after a break of some 17 years. Now it’s more boys to men as Mike (Smith) and Marcus (Lawrence), both now in their fifties, fully embrace creaking limbs, expanding waistlines and even beard dying products.
This time, it’s a simple case of revenge. Starting with a brutal prison bust, Mike’s past comes back to haunt him as those associated with one of his old cases are executed with tragic consequences. As Mike sets out to take his own vengeance, Marcus is at a very different stage of his life, which is pointed out to us a little too often. After recently becoming a grandfather and on the cusp of retirement, he’s enjoying the quiet life where it’s all joss sticks, spas and soap operas.
Can the pair reunite one last time and bring to justice those determined to take them down? Of course they can, and what follows is a stylish action thriller which relies a little too heavily on the banter between the two leads, but is a hell of a lot of fun and, perhaps surprisingly, quite emotional.
Directors Adil and Bilall create some decent set-pieces including an explosive motorbike and sidecar chase, the likes of which hasn’t been since since Wallace and Gromit in A Close Shave! Their sequences are, refreshingly, easy to follow and feature some superb camera work from cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert.
On their journey, the boys team up with a small group of younger cops which include Vanessa Hudgens and Alexander Ludwig. They’re all a likeable bunch and you would hope they’d feature more heavily if these films were to continue or branch off in a different direction.
Smith is as cool as ever and Lawrence embraces the comedy side-kick role with aplomb and reminds us of what we’ve been missing by his absence from cinema over the last few years whilst Jacob Scipio exudes malevolence as the film’s bad guy. There are probably too many, ‘we’re too old for this shit’, jokes, but there’s a very definite charm to proceedings.
Bad Boys For Life proves that there’s life in these old boys yet. Probably slightly too long, but a self-aware bromance that’s successfully breathed new life into this franchise.
Bad Boys For Life is in UK cinemas now.