Cert 15 Stars 3

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return in tandem in this long awaited and disposable action comedy sequel, a violent crime caper which trades heavily on their amiable chemistry and delivers a macho workout of shoot-outs and car chases, but is absolutely abstemious in portraying any sexual activity.

Age can’t diminish Smith’s charismatic swagger, and if you missed Lawrence’s unique brand of tomfoolery, then you’ll be entertained by his performance here, after some years away from the big time.

As Miami cops they’re hunted by a Mexican cartel intent on revenge for the sins of a violent career, a story which leans into the current US political climate with its tales of feckless African-American youths and promiscuous Mexican women with the power of witchcraft.

With Mexico presented as a shanty town of corruption and exporter of terror, drugs and violence to the States, a modicum of balance is offered by the cop’s young, diverse and insanely attractive hi-tech support team, lead by Mexican actress Paola Nunez, and including Vanessa Hudgens and Alexander Ludwig.

Toning down the leering camerawork of the 2005 and 1993 instalments to favour drooling over expensive cars rather than bikini-clad women, Belgian directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah retain the slick, glossy, sun-kissed and hectic style pioneered by original director, Michael Bay, who is on hand to make an indulgent cameo.

Everything is photographed to make a reasonable budget look as if an extravagant amount of money has been spent, however the explosive set-pieces are noticeably smaller than the rival Fast Furious franchise, whose homilies about the nobility and prominence are ripped off by a workaday script.

And unlike the Mission Impossible franchise, the editing and cinematography seem designed to convince none of the actors are doing their own stunts.

With his name on the production titles at the film’s beginning, ahead of his credit on Tom Cruise’s upcoming Top Gun: Maverick, producer Don Simpson is having a banner year – an impressive achievement considering he’s been dead since 1996.