Friday, January 17, 2020

Latest 'Bad Boys' never lets life get in the way of its fast and furious story

"Bad Boys for Life," the second sequel in a 25-year-old franchise fueled by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, begins with a bang, almost as if still-credited producers (the late) Don Simpson and (real-live billionaire) Jerry Bruckheimer were calling the shots like it was 1995.

There's clearly enough machismo energy and silly one-liners for recycling onto the screen here to make your head spin, and not always in a negative way. The ever-popular, fast and furious car chase takes charge right away, with flashers flaring, sirens blaring and the colorful environs of Miami on fire with activity. Naturally, Lawrence's Marcus Burnett is still screaming at Smith's Mike Lowrey, too, with the latter at the wheel of a Porsche that's preening and careening like clockwork.

Trouble is, these old cop buddies and bad boys for life might not have all their juices working anymore. In fact, you'll be surprised -- pleasantly, it says here -- to find out where they're headed in such a hell-raising hurry.

Then the plot -- crazy, convoluted and teeming with more preposterous turns than maybe a try-hard action movie really deserves -- kicks in with a violent visit to Mexico City, of all places. That's where an ultra-bloody prison break, engineered by a witch-like cartel widow (the appropriately scary Kate del Castillo) and borrowing heavily from "The Silence of the Lambs," signals a series of law-related assassinations back in Florida.

By the time our heroes and their loyal but ever-frustrated police captain (an always solid Joe Pantoliano) get wind of any of it, a masked and cycle-riding killer hits close and deadly enough to home to almost stop the show in its tracks.

Never fear, however, 17 years after their seriously lousy last ride, these "Bad Boys for Life" show some actual signs of resuscitation. Heck, there's even room for wild and woolly director Michael Bay, who helmed both the original and that very bad "Bad II," in a cameo.

Rated "R": strong bloody violence, language throughout, sexual references and brief drug use; 2:04; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

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