• by Wes Singleton

Bad Boys for Life -B-

Rated R, 134 minutes

The predictably fun "Bad Boys for Life" is the latest sequel in the "Bad Boys" franchise that started nearly 25 years ago, and should introduce its catchy, ubiquitous single of the same name to a new generation of audiences. The

film, which put mindless entertainment and its lead

actors on the map, brings back the charming duo of Martin Lawrence and Will Smith along with no surprises or revelations: loads of flash, blood and bang, which should please its audience just fine.

The once inseparable duo of Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) and Michael "Mike" Lowrey (Smith) is coming apart: an aging Burnett has decided upon retirement while Lowrey is assigned to AMMO, a "young guns" group of millennial cops with whom he has nothing in common. They reunite when a fierce cartel mob boss (Kate del Castillo) makes a retaliation effort on Mike, who has some intimate connections with the cartel from years ago.

The enjoyably "Bad Boys for Life" is again produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay (who has a fun cameo in the film), who had the good sense this time out to turn over directing duties to a couple of newcomers, the Belgian directing duo of Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah. Arbi and Fallah slightly tone down the over-the-top car chases from the second installment and refocus on what made the franchise fun in the first place, and that is the appealing Lawrence-Smith chemistry.

The script by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan, pokes a little fun at the actors middle age, and it is indeed interesting how much has changed in 25 years. Both Lawrence and Smith were TV actors then, and the original "Bad Boys" helped catapult them into movie stars; Lawrence, who hasn't done much of late, provides a requisite amount of comic relief against the stoic Smith, who after all this time, still takes this way too seriously.

By no surprise, "Bad Boys for Life" is bogged down by all of its silly car chases, bullets, blood and general flash, a murky script doesn't always dodge some big pot holes along the way, or why it's necessary to kill someone so dramatically (from a helicopter) or why the gun must be fired endlessly (the answer is easy: this is a Bruckheimer/Bay production). Familiar "Bad Boys" cast members Theresa Randle and Joe Pantoliano return briefly as Marcus' wife and the guys' police Captain, respectively.

The "Bad Boys" franchise is about the fun and violence and not exactly high-minded entertainment, and on that level this succeeds just fine, and is an improvement over the unfocused "Bad Boys II." "Bad Boys for Life" is mindless entertainment for a new generation, and a nice escape from the real world. Watcha gonna do? You may have to go see or it they'll come for you.