Surprisingly, “Bad Boys For Life” is nowhere near as bad as its opening day schedule would indicate. It is the best of the three films, offering in some odd ways a corrective to the prior installments. Unlike the original, this one finds some depth in its female characters; unlike the second, it’s not an exceptionally vile mishmash of “Freebie and the Bean” and “Scarface” whose running time felt approximately 600 hours long. This time, Detectives Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowery (Will Smith) are more mindful of how much collateral damage they do, even if the latter must be constantly reminded to temper his carnage. I didn’t buy this “kinder, gentler Bad Boys” shtick for one minute, but that doesn’t mean I was bored. When the climax starts laying telenovela-level melodrama atop the explosions and gunplay while openly cannibalizing ideas from “Gemini Man,” I had to admire the audacity of those choices.
Meanwhile, something is brewing in Mexico, and I literally mean “brewing.” A self-proclaimed bruja named Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo) executes a gruesome, “Silence of the Lambs”-style prison breakout, reuniting with her son Armando (Jacob Scipio). It’s all part of a plan to murder the people who put Isabel in prison and her husband in the grave. One of those unlucky folks is Det. Lowery, whom Isabel commands her son to kill last “so he can suffer.” Castillo plays her role with maximum toughness, so much so that I wish she’d just gone after her enemies herself, but that whole witch character trait had me worried that “Bad Boys for Life” was going to embarrassingly do for brujería what Steven Seagal’s “Marked for Death” did for voodoo.
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