• 08 Feb - 14 Feb, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Martin Lawrence may not have starred in a motion picture for close to a decade, but he has a special place in our lives. While Bad Boys for Life has a completely asinine story, generic action, predictable plot beats, moronic dialogue and truly reprehensible politics, we still had a good time, thanks to Lawrence.

Lawrence, who can tell an entire story on his face in one reaction shot, must shout “Oh shit!” a hundred times in Bad Boys for Life. Each time it is funny for a different reason. He uses an exclamatory “Oh shit!” the way Rembrandt used oils. If he was endearing as a young man, he is doubly so at the age of 54, with his Bad Boys character Marcus Burnett a new grandfather eager to retire from the Miami police force. He needs glasses for distance, and hears the Barcalounger calling to him.

Marcus’s partner, however – the never-married Mike Lowery (Will Smith) – is forever committed to putting the baddies behind bars. Oh, who are we kidding? Lowery’s modus operandi here, as in the two previous Bad Boys films, is to turn lawbreakers into Swiss cheese with a barrage of bullets, or just blow them up. Good luck finding a film with a more lusty zeal for the militarisation of the police force.

The Boys’ new crew is led by Smith’s maybe-some-day love interest Rita (Paola Núñez) who is a striking and tough woman. Also in the squad is Vanessa Hudgens (given very little to do), the enormous Alexander Ludwig (playing against type as a hacker) and Charles Melton, meant to represent a new breed of Bad Boy.

The stars of the show will always be Smith and Lawrence, cussing at each other as they speed through traffic bashing into things and making things blow up. Apart from one shot that tilts the camera on its side as if you are playing your Xbox while lying down, the action scenes lack any real wow factor. What works, though, are the reactions: the screams, the swears, the quibbling between the cringing Lawrence and tough-guy Smith. It’s a formula too sweet and smooth to deny.