It's been nearly two decades since Will Smith and Martin Lawrence hit the mean streets of Miami in Bad Boys II, but the duo is back in 2020 and not much has changed. In a time when trilogies and connected universes are all the rage, Bad Boys is finally getting a third installment. The new film, Bad Boys for Life, doesn't quite meet the high bar of its predecessors, but you may be surprised at just how well the action comedy holds up. Get the full scoop in our Bad Boys for Life review!
The first and most glaring change with Bad Boys for Life is the absence of Michael Bay. Directing duo, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah offer their best Michael Bay impression, but it was just that... a clear and deliberate impression. The number of rotating camera angles is high, but the film just doesn't have the sharp action spin that Bay is known for. It would've been better to see Arbi and Fallah do their own thing instead of trying to stay in line with Bay's original style.
While the music in Bad Boys for Life is pulled directly from the previous two films, the timing and impact are off. In Michael Bay's two Bad Boys films, the score was another character. It played a big part in the over-the-top action sequences, and even served as a way to transition between locations. Those same beats land flat throughout most of Bad Boys for Life.
Despite the directorial and score issues, Bad Boys for Life is still a Bad Boys film at heart, with the chemistry between Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) carrying the film full force. Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) is back in the mix as well, and just as integral to the film as he was in the last two movies, playing well off the two detectives.
The newcomers enter the fray with mixed results. A new high tech police division, known as AMMO, brings in a few young hot shots that don't add much to the film. There are a few standout moments with Dorn (Alexander Ludwig) and Rafe (Charles Melton), but even these two only stand out when Detective Lowrey is included in the scene. Beyond that they're mostly background noise or eye candy.
Without going into spoiler territory, the new main antagonists, Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo) and Armando Armas (Jacob Scipio) are imposing threats throughout a majority of the film. However, as soon as the plot starts to evolve, their role in the story gets needlessly overcomplicated and brings down what would otherwise be a fairly traditional revenge plot. Changing things up is great, but the writers went in the wrong direction with the villains and it ends up hurting the film.
It may seem as though there's more bad than good in Bad Boys for Life, but as the third (and hopefully not final) film in the franchise, a precedent has been set. The bar is high for Bad Boys, and some would say newer films like Fast and Furious lift that bar even higher. These films aren't going to get best picture nominations, but Michael Bay got his reputation for a reason (before he threw it out the window with all the Transformers films).
Smith and Lawrence do everything they can to right the ship that is Bad Boys for Life, and for the most part they succeed. Bad Boys for Life fits well as the third film in the series, and although it is clearly outclassed by Bad Boys and Bad Boys II, it's good enough to warrant even more films featuring Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. Just do everyone a favor and bring back Michael Bay, or allow any new directors the freedom to use their own unique styles instead of trying to mimic Bay.
About Bad Boys for Life
Synopsis: The Bad Boys Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett are back together for one last ride in the highly anticipated Bad Boys for Life.
Directors: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah
Writers: Chris Bremner, Peter Craig
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Alexander Ludwig, Vanessa Hudgens
Runtime: 2 Hours, 3 Minutes