Thursday, January 16, 2020

Mediocre Sequel, Mediocre Sequel. Whatcha Gonna Do?

Hitting theaters 16 years after Bad Boys II, and 25 years after the original film, Bad Boys for Life feels about as tired as its two stars at times. The film reunites Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the latest attempt of movie studios to reboot, relaunch, or recycle any franchise they can find. There's no real reason for the film to exist, but Smith and Lawrence provide some entertaining moments bouncing off one another to keep you mildly interested between explosions and gun fights (which, sadly, fail to reach insanity of Michael Bay at his best).

Reminiscent of the themes from Lethal Weapon 4, the script from Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, and Joe Carnahan (it really took three of you to write this?) centers mostly on the advanced age of our two leads (one of whom is aging more gracefully than the other). After breaking out of prison, a criminal from their past (Kate del Castillo) returns to take revenge through a talented assassin (Jacob Scipio) in a plot that gets a bit more convoluted than it needs to before director Adil El Arbi finally throws in the towel and decides instead to just make various things explode (whether common sense or logic says they should).

It's odd, but as a fan of action flicks I've never seen Bad Boys or Bad Boys II. I haven't avoided either film, but I've just never sought either out or randomly come across one on cable. This meant I had no preconceptions about what the film should be or where I wanted to see it take the characters, but I was also not the target demographic as I had no nostalgia to manipulate (and there's plenty of that happening here). For me, Bad Boys for Life is just another throwaway action flick that is no better or worse than any number of forgettable entries to the genre.

While also pulling in Joe Pantoliano to reprise his role as the cliched angry police captain, the script introduces several younger characters (Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, and Charles Melton) who Smith's character correctly notes seem more at home in a glee club or boy band. Like our two leads, the villain, and every other character in the film, they can be summed up in four words or less. Paola Nuñez is introduced as a possible love interest for Smith, though we're never given much of a reason to root for the pair to end up together. Bad Boys for Life isn't a bad film, but it's not necessarily a good one either. It's the kind of movie that you may watch for 15 minutes or so late at night when you come across it on TNT (although you are likely to begin channel surfing at the first commercial).

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