By John Mulderig
NEW YORK (CNS) — After lying dormant for more than a decade and a half, the action-comedy franchise that gave us “Bad Boys” in 1995 and the imaginatively titled sequel “Bad Boys II” eight years later makes an unwelcome reappearance.
In the tradition of its predecessors, the third outing, “Bad Boys for Life” (Columbia), is a gleeful shoot’em-up that revels in violence for its own sake.
Thus there’s an assassination spree going on as the plot reunites the twin pillars of the saga, Miami police partners and best friends Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence). And one of its first victims is Lowrey — who comes close to dying of his gunshot wounds.
Once his long recovery is complete, he and Burnett find their relationship strained since family man Burnett wants to retire while they still can whereas free-spirited bachelor Lowery is bent on the pair pursuing their own version of justice yet again. (Strict observance of police regulations has never been their trademark.)
As clues suggest that the culprits are Isabel (Kate Del Castillo) and Armando (Jacob Scipio) Aretas, a mother-and-son team of narcotics runners out for revenge for the long imprisonment from which Isabel has just escaped, and as other officials involved in her case are gunned down, there’s little suspense about what course our, uh, heroes will ultimately choose.
Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah steer us through a subplot about the clash between the old-fashioned methods favored by Lowery and Burnett and the up-to-date approach — watch that surveillance drone fly! — of a newly formed special unit led by Lowery’s old flame, Rita (Paola Nunez). But the real agenda of their slick movie is graphically portrayed gory mayhem.
Taken together with the sometimes-flippant attitude toward faith that marks the script, penned by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan, all the nasty death dealing on both sides renders “Bad Boys for Life” inappropriate for any age group.
Ah, but what about that infectious reggae theme song, you ask. Well, you can always stay home and watch reruns of “Cops” to hear that ditty again — over and over, in fact.
The film contains excessive bloody violence, gruesome sights, an ambiguous treatment of religion, a couple of profanities, numerous milder oaths and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.