I am so relieved, and extra relieved to tell you, that my prediction was correct. My prediction? Well, there is always at least one or two movies in the dump shit month of January that break the mold and aren’t so much pieces of shit like the other new releases that surround them. I predicted that BAD BOYS FOR LIFE (and I am also predicting next weeks’ The Gentlemen) would be one of those two films. I was right. Bad Boys For Life was pretty damn entertaining. And holy shit…it had an actual plot! Something that the other two Bad Boys couldn’t really say that contained…well, maybe the first one. Yet…not really. This films story has a concise three story structure acts, and twists I fucking didn’t see coming (don’t worry, I don’t even hint at what they are). Will Smith and Martin Lawrence haven’t lost a beat with their characters of Detective Mike Lowery and Detective Marcus Burnett. With plenty of laughs as well to boot, it all culminates in a very satisfying 3rd film which makes the whole affair a pretty solid buddy cop action trilogy…even if this is easily my least favorite among the three…but that has more to do with the direction, action, and absence of Michael Bay (who would’ve thunk I’d be complaining about NO MICHAEL BAY?!?)
The less said about the story the better, but if I could put it in one extremely long log line: Detectives Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett are getting up there in age, with Marcus extremely close to retirement, but when a Mexican Warlord Lady brutally escapes from prison and then revenge targets Mike and several others involved with a case that dates back before Mike and Marcus even became a Bad Boy team, they must find out what is going on before this angry witch forcefully puts everyone into early retirement…and straight to their graves. If that description sounds extra 1980s cop movie cheesy, then I’ve successfully described the whole affair to you. Even with the original Bad Boys in 1995, it is all supposed to come across as 80s buddy cop movie cheesiness, but with bigger and better explosions. A childhood friend helped me discover the original Bad Boys (I unfortunately didn’t witness that Bayhem in theaters) but then I delightfully enjoyed the giant middle finger that Michael Bay gave critics 8 years later with Bad Boys II, i.e. no plot, all awesome practical action effects that rivaled anything the first movie gave us. But now, 17 YEARS LATER after the second film, we still got the big main three (Marcus, Mike, and the lovably irritated Captain Howard) but we have several new screenwriters, new characters, and a duo of new director’s (Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah) that take over directing duties from Bay (but who graciously passes the torch…you’ll see if you know what Bay looks like). So, the real question is, why did I still really enjoy this film even though it is my least favorite of the three?
Both directors Arbi and Fallah are adequate, and the action is half way decent, but they cannot film their action sequences even in the same ballpark as Michael Bay did. The action in this doesn’t even hold a candle to the action that took place in the first film, hell it isn’t even in the same universe as what the second film brought to the screen. It’s not to say that the action is bad, it’s just really underwhelming to what we’ve gotten before. However, on the flip side of that opinion, I have to admit that at least it doesn’t go all “Fast and Furious” franchise action on us. There are no “eye rolling” moments such as Vin Diesel catching someone mid air in the middle of the highway or the rock steering a submarine missile. The action you get in this movie is much more plausible and more grounded in reality than a lot of films today, going back to that 80s style cheesiness some movie lovers like me still crave. So on the one hand, while I miss Michael Bay’s touch and all over the place editing, I commend these directors for everything staying in that same “bombastic yet still realistic” spectrum. The laughs aren’t as big as the previous two (although it gets close) and the cinematography might not be as special as the other two either, but boy oh boy, the one thing that this film has over the other two, is the plot. It actually moves along at a decent pace and has several twists and turns you won’t see coming and that might shock and awe you.
But I said no spoilers, so I won’t get into it much, but if I could say one last thing on the matter, the movie gives us some Bad Boys mythology/history that the 2nd film really didn’t bring to the table, which kind of dumbfounded me. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are excellent here again as they have always been, and haven’t lost touch with their chemistry or banter, the only noticeable gain would be Lawrence’s weight, but hey, who cares, his character is retiring! The movie also gives us its most memorable villains since the first film, probably even more memorable here, however that is due to more of what they represent in accordance with the story, not necessarily them hamming it up in their scenes. While of course we get the old age cop jokes (because it would be kind of weird if we didn’t right?) to me they didn’t hit anyone over the head with them, using their age as more of an emotional pull and added weight to the story. Mainly the old jokes come from a young addition to the Bad Boys cannon, a young cop group called A.M.M.O., who try to handle situations without lethal force if possible, and are not too fond of the way Mike and Marcus have stacked up the body count in the past. The three youngsters in A.M.M.O. include High School Musical’s (they made a fun little joke about this) Vanessa Hudgens, The Hunger Games’s Alexander Ludwig, and Riverdale’s Charles Melton. I thought that this team would ultimately annoy me in the end with too much screentime and not enough wit or story structure substance, but color me surprised that what they brought to the table actually worked and would love to see them in future installments. They are in the movie just the right amount and don’t take any from Will Smith and Martin Lawrence doing what they do best. In fact, all three of them get little arcs so they weren’t just one dimensional characters, which again, is always appreciated by this film goer.
Mike’s new love interest, played by Paola Nunez, and of course the great Joe Pantoliano as the returning Captain Howard, are great, and the former being the best love interest Mike has had (wasn’t too fond of the Gabrielle Union one in the 2nd) and the latter being the best he’s been in all three movies. It’s a very solid film, and a good time at the movies, what more is there to say? If you haven’t been a fan of the Bad Boys movies, this one sure isn’t to change your mind. It’s the same old, same old. The only thing I wish is that maybe, even though there was one just greenlit, that we didn’t get a 4th movie. There is a scene a little into the credits that hints at more things to come (of course there is). If this were the last one, it would end up being a solid half way decent trilogy you could revisit over and over again and I have a feeling a 4th one would be rushed out of the gate and quite possibly could end up being the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull of the franchise. I hope they prove me wrong. Anyway, I was so glad this wasn’t a January disaster. With these two characters, I’ll always ride together, always watch them together if they bring us another adventure. Movie geek boy 4 life yo!
Rank of Bad Boys Films
- Bad Boys II
- Bad Boys
- Bad Boys For Life