Miami detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett
investigate a string of murders tied to Lowrey’s past.
Bad Boys for Life (2020)
Directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah
Written by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, Joe Carnahan
Starring Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens,
Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Nunez,
Kate del Castillo, Jacob Scipio, Joe Pantoliano
Sequel to 2003's Bad Boys II
This threequel was in production hell for almost 20 years. While Bad Boys II was financially successful, both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence had moved on to greener pastures and fatter paychecks. Also, it didn't really seem like there was anywhere else to go with this franchise. The first one was pretty generic, and the second one looked awesome but was fairly forgettable outside of regular action junkies. I expected Bad Boys for Life to suck something awful and stink of obligation. But it's easily the best in the series and a solid standalone action comedy.
Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) are now in their 50's. Mike is still living every day like its his last, but Marcus is considering retirement after becoming a grandpa. When Mike is gunned down in the street and nearly killed, he heals up and becomes determined to catch his would-be killer. What he discovers is a earth-shattering secret that actually works brilliantly for the story and turns this installment into a completely different movie. The supporting cast are all decent, and the villain is fantastic.
I think taking Michael Bay out of the mixture was the smartest thing the Bad Boys franchise ever did. His frat boy brand of humor and constant degradation of female characters is gone, replaced with solid chemistry, a great story, and some of the tightest action sequences in the entire series. I went in with low expectations and came out really impressed. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm looking forward to a possible fourth film, especially after that exciting sequel tease.
Well, here it is. A sequel I wasn’t really asking for but got anyway. I mean, I actually really enjoyed the past two movies quite a bit. They were a lot of fun and stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence shared an insane amount of chemistry. But, was I begging for a third film? Not really. And, yet, Hollywood spent well over a decade trying. Like most films stuck in development hell, there were a series of starts and stops through the years. Michael Bay was dropped due to his demanded fee, there were the numerous writer and director change-ups, and a constantly changing release date. All of this just affirmed to me that a third film was never going to happen. So, color me surprised when I end up seeing a trailer for Bad Boys for Life. And, it actually looks really good. But, how did it ultimately turn out all these years later? I’ll tell you what I think.
First things first, is anyone really surprised by the improved quality of this installment since Michael Bay didn’t direct this one. Seriously, every single technical aspect alone is greatly improved. Hollywood, take this as a sign and stop hiring him. Gone are racial and sexist jokes that are constituted as “humor.” Gone is the almost creepy ogling of every single female character. Instead, we get a tightly paced movie which focuses on characters and plot. And as for our two main stars. Simply put, it’s like Will Smith and Martin Lawrence never left the set. Their chemistry is still incredibly strong and help keep an already greatly paced film moving. Lawrence, in particular, hasn’t missed a beat with his comedic timing. The film also pulls the cliché act of casting younger actors to potentially replace the older ones. But, again, Bad Boys for Life exceeds expectations by actually making them useful and enjoyable. Seriously, it’s amazing what happens when Michael Bay isn’t involved.
Bad Boys for Life shouldn’t be this good. But by removing Bay from the director’s chair and utilizing the two stars’ chemistry, we got one of the better long delayed sequels in cinema. If they are planning on making a fourth movie, let’s hope we don’t have to wait as long. Bad boys, bad boys, what'cha gonna do when they come for you?