I have to admit I have a soft spot for the Bad Boys films. My brother and I watched the original multiple times when I was much younger. We’d often make jokes and quote the film. When Bad Boys II came out I was beginning to dig into independent cinema and had film snob chip on my shoulder. I didn’t watch it for a while due to the poor reviews (most notably Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper), but when I finally rented it I enjoyed it. I’m not going to pretend either film is high art.
Bad Boys is a fun 90’s action/buddy comedy film that succeeded thanks to the chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Bad Boys II is a glorious exercise in vapid stupidity that much like Pain & Gain gives audiences a clear window into the ‘quirky’ inner most workings of Michael Bay’s mind. With Bay removed from the equation and the extended hiatus did we need another entry in Bad Boys For Life in this franchise?
“I’mma penetrate this man’s soul wit my heart.”
Seventeen years has passed since we last saw Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence). Older, but necessarily wiser the pair are now in their fifties still kicking ass for the Miami PD. But with Marcus becoming a grandfather and Bulletproof Mike not living up his nickname things are changing. Marcus is ready for a bit of the good life while Mike begins looking for his would be killer. It’s all pretty par for the course cop film cribbing material from classics of the genre. It is nice that the film has great strengths to help keep things moving.
First and foremost the cast brings it. It is nice to see that Smith and Lawrence still have a great rapport with each other. It feels like neither of them has missed a step in the years since they wrapped the last film. Cracking jokes and being foils for each other is at the very core of these films. I personally was quite happy to see many of the previous supporting actors return. Joe Pantoliano’s consistently irate Captain Howard has always been a personal favorite of mine, but to see Theresa Randle, Bianca Bethune, and yes even Dennis Greene as Reggie was fun.
“One last time.”
With that I also will acknowledge that the newcomers were pretty great. Mike’s AMMO team full of young up and comers lead by old flame Rita (Paola Nunez) is stacked with talent. It is dumbfounding to see this was Nunez’s first major US film. I cannot wait to see her conquer Hollywood in the coming years. I got to give Vanessa Hudgens credit for dabbling in different genres the past few years with quite a bit of success. She stands her ground beside Alexander Ludwig and Charles Melton. Throw in the beautiful villainess Isabel (Kate del Castilo) and her son Armando (Jacob Scipio) as the main antagonists and everyone is a blast. Also, keep an eye out for a fantastic cameo at Megan and Reggie’s wedding.
A marked improvement this film has over its predecessors is the story. For once we actually get to see some character growth in our leads. Marcus is reflecting on his legacy and looking to the future and retirement (instead of being impotent from getting shot in the ass). Mike is forced to come to terms with the sins of his past and his aging. I appreciated that the entire writing team wanted to give these two get more character development in less and hour in this Bad Boys For Life than Bay could in his previous two.
“It’s time we be good men.”
I have to give credit to the directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah for their impressive work. Emulating Bay’s style while putting their stamp on the film no easy task, but it paid off. Bruckheimer has an eye for up and coming talent and these two are a potential force to be reckoned with. I’m excited to see what they do with Beverly Hill Cop 4 and must track down a copy of Black. I did not think I would leave the theatre wanting a 4th film in the Bad Boys series, but Bad Boys For Life won me over. If this quality can be kept up bring on Bad Boys 4 Life, Bad Boy5, and many more!
Overall Score 3.5/5
The Shameless Plugs
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