By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

The “Boys” are back, but this time they are battling age and some ghosts from the past. Seventeen years have passed since audiences last rode with detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. And even though they lack the stamina of their younger versions, the dynamic cop duo still have the comedic chops and a definite excitement for their beloved characters. Bad Boys I and II director Michael Bay has not returned, but that’s okay. Younger bloods Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah show much talent and proficiency when it comes to incendiary action and wildly hilarious gags.

Lowery (Will Smith) and Burnett (Martin Lawrence) may be showing and feeling the years and mileage, but they are still on the job doing their best to stop the bad guys while infuriating their boss Captain Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano). Burnett has long considered retirement, but is now seriously taking this big step forward after becoming a new grandfather. This major turning point in his life comes into serious question when an enemy from Lowery’s past attempts to murder Burnett’s best partner. After this major life-changing experience occurs, both Bad Boys must decide if pursuing this volatile enemy is worth the major risk.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with this third installment in the Bad Boys franchise. It truly is a rare moment when the third chapter of a franchise really ups the stakes and develops its lead characters in some seriously dynamic ways. With a screenplay by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, and Joe Carnahan, directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah not only deliver an explosive action feast with the expected hilarious comedy, they also a deep and insightful character study of two different cops facing some of their most difficult challenges. The movie utilizes the ages of the actors/characters well for both comedic and dramatic effect.

Both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence seemingly slip into their old roles rather comfortably and show a much more impressive range that is demanded by the writing and development of their characters. In addition to Pantoliano, Theresa Randle, and a few of the familiar characters of the franchise, new additions Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, and Paola Núñez all deliver solid work as the younger cops investigating the attempt on Lowery’s life. Actress Kate Del Castillo and Jacob Scipio star as Isabel Aretas and her son Armando, the enemies from Mike’s past who wish to see him suffer. Both actors give exciting and passionate turns as the angry and driven antagonists.

Going into this movie, I was a bit worried that the third time would not at all be the charm, but after experiencing the awesomeness of this sequel, I am both relieved and ecstatic. That is not to say that the movie is a perfect film; however, I think that having new talents behind the lens were just what this franchise needed. And perhaps, in 2020, the excesses that usually come with Michael Bay would not have played as well. Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah still bring the same levels of action and comedy expected from an installment in the franchise, and had what is arguably the best script for a Bad Boys movie.

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