Bad Boys for Life (MA) - 124 minutes
It has been a while between drinks (Bad Boys II came out in 2003, five years after the original) and that extended break can spell danger, but Will Smith and Martin Laurence still have unmistakable chemistry.
With a high-octane script, plenty of action, twists a plenty and no shortage of good humour, Bad Boys for Life is an unexpected winner.
I say unexpected because I approached it with relatively low expectations, which were well and truly exceeded.
Sure, it is violent, but it is also fun and entertaining.
Smith and Lawrence return in two of their signature roles as detectives Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett.
With the birth of his first grandson, Burnett is ready to retire – something he has been threatening to do for some time.
Not so, perpetually single Lowery, who drives a sexy, new Porsche at hyper speed through the streets of Miami and craves the adrenalin rush that comes with the job.
Also, the last thing he wants Burnett to do is to opt out.
But then things go haywire.
A dangerous Mexican woman, Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo), who Lowery helped ensnare and incarcerate, escapes from prison and uses her assassin son to wreak vengeance on everyone who put her there.
Heading that list is Lowery, although he doesn’t yet know it.
Lowery’s bull at a gate approach doesn’t reconcile with a new police unit known as AMMO (Advance Miami Metro Operations), which has introduced high-tech investigative tactics to the Miami P.D.
Although it is the brainchild of risk averse Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano), its on the ground functionality is the domain of a former Lowery flame and fellow cop Rita (Paola Nunez), who effectively runs the show.
With her is a specially trained new breed, not all of whom Lowery sees eye to eye with.
Laurence is outstanding as the more sedate of the partners. He has a great sense of comic timing throughout and is gifted some choice one liners.
Smith is comfortable in his alpha male role and there is definitely a smouldering intensity in his interplay with Rita, who is tasked with keeping him under control (an impossibility, of course).
I also really enjoyed Pantoliano’s performanceas the Bad Boys’ highly-strung commanding officer, who knows he is in for a rocky ride every time he has to deal with Lowery in particular.
Rita’s three-strong team adds flavour and tension to the relationship between her and Lowery.
Much of Bad Boys for Life’s success comes down to the writing and direction, which differs from when we last visited the “opposites attract” duo.
The screenplay is the work of Chris Bremner, Peter Craig (The Town) and Joe Carnahan (The Grey), with direction from Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah.
The film is also visually strong and engaging. The director of photography is Robrecht Heyvaert, with whom the directors had worked previously.
This third episode can certainly be seen and appreciated without having seen the earlier two, but for those who have it turns out to be a welcome return to the franchise, with a fourth instalment on the way.
Rated MA, it scores a 7½ out of 10.