Bad Boys for Life (2020)

Directed by Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah
Written by Chris Bremner & Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they make a new one after almost 20 years? Had to do it! While I am a huge fan of the first two Bad Boys films, one must think it is peculiar that after all these years, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have decided to reunite for a third tale in their smash action movie saga. There was always a rumor that they wanted to make a third, but would only do so if the script was good, so it is conceivable that it took 15 years for somebody to write a good script, but what results is a film featuring two stars that are a shell of their younger selves, especially as it pertains to their characters in this story. However, that does present the opportunity to tell a slightly different, perhaps more mature story with these same characters.

We return to present day Miami with our heros Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), where the latter is celebrating the birth of his grandchild. Life comes at you fast. Marcus is ready to retire, while Mike is still not ready to settle down after all these years. But soon important criminal justice figures in Miami are being murdered, and the duo must work together with a new special ops department called AMMO to figure out why this is happening, and who is doing it. The deeper they go into the investigation, the more Mike begins to realize it has to do with their past, which will eventually shift his views on both his present and future.

Honestly, after all these years, and with the absence of Michael Bay in the director’s chair, I had my great doubts as to what this movie could be. And yet, among the traditional dumping ground that is January, Bad Boys for Life manages to hit on enough of the tropes that made the first two successful, and uses the new timeframe of these characters at the end of their careers to great benefit, resulting in an extremely watchable and entertaining movie. This is largely achieved by the film’s two leads, who you can tell really buy into returning to these characters, and show they still have tremendous on screen chemistry.

That being said, I would still rank it as the least impressive of the trilogy, largely, I believe, due to the lack of Michael Bay. While Bay has been derided in recent years, his run through the 90s and early 00s as an action director is still largely appreciated by me, and that includes the first two films in this series, which utilize incredible energy and innovative shots to create intense and wildly entertaining action sequences. This film lacked that style and innovation, resulting in run of the mill, forgettable action scenes. Where the film does live up is the comedy, but the jokes also come at us at a much greater pace, resulting in the overall tone of the film being more comedy than action, often undermining the more tense and dramatic moments in the film. When I think of Bad Boys, I think of a great action movie, with real stakes, that also happens to be funny. When I think of Bad Boys for Life, it certainly seems to be a comedy that happens to have some action scenes in it as well.

I’m glad they decided to make another one of these movies. I’m even more glad they decided to buy in and make a good movie as opposed to just settling for a rehash cash grab. What Will Smith and Martin Lawrence did by creating these characters, and continuing them through three movies is the heart and center of the series. So while I may mourn the lack of Michael Bay (other than the “oh hey that’s Michael Bay” moment in this film), in reality fans of this series are invested in Mike and Marcus and their partnership. Bad Boys for Life is no different and Smith and Lawrence make this movie and make this series. This will be an easy movie to recommend to fans of the series.

★★★ – LIKED IT

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