Mike (WILL SMITH), Marcus (MARTIN LAWRENCE) on the streets of Miami in Columbia Pictures' BAD BOYS FOR LIFE.

Bad Boys for Life

Dept. of Way Better Than It Ought To Be


2019 ended, for me, with a very unsatisfying third entry in a long lived, beloved film franchise. Imagine my surprise when 2020 started with a hugely enjoyable, unexpected, maybe even unwanted, third entry in a film series that I thought was well past its sell by date. I’m not saying that Bad Boys for Life is “better” than Rise of Skywalker. That would be like comparing apples with At-At’s, but… but… when it comes to capping trilogies, it is far better than it has any right to be.

It’s been 25 years since the first Bad Boys exploded on screen, and at first little seems to have changed in the years since Michael Bay’s feature film directorial debut. Detectives Mike Looowwwwry & Marcus Burnett are still tearing around Miami in Mike’s expensive luxury cars but rather than chasing bad guys, this time it’s to get to the birth of Marcus’s grandson.

As the now ageing detectives (Lawrence is 54 , Smith 50) come to terms with their middle age and what that means for each of them, a villain from Mike’s past, but not any of the previous movies, threatens to schedule them for early retirement… permanently.

Considering how age has impacted both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, I had expected BBFL to get most its laughs mocking the slightly doughy Lawrence, but surprisingly it takes a much more nuanced approach. While Mike is happy to continue his police sponsored mayhem on the streets of Miami, Marcus is looking to retire and take care of his grandson. Unlike many other action films with ageing stars, however, BBFL never paints Marcus’s decision as the wrong one. It even pokes fun at Smith’s handling of his age with a funny repeated bit about whether or not he dyes the grey out of his goatee. The frequent humour is based in the characters, and almost all of it lands in this funny film.

To be honest it’s kind of amazing how screenwriters Chris Bremner and Peter Craig (with some work by Joe Carnahan before he left the project) and directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have managed to identify all the requirements of a “good” Bad Boys and stick them in this movie.

Marcus and Mike bickering, while action erupts all around, check!

Joey Pants as Captain Howard screaming at them as they demolish parts of Miami, check!

Beautiful aerial time lapse shots of Miami, check!

Michael Bay, even if he’s not in the director’s chair, check!

That iconic shot of the Miami sign at the airport, check!

Yes, even this shot makes a return! Source: The Internet Movie Plane Database

Bad Boys for Life has enough nods for fans of the series but also manages a surprisingly heartfelt story, involving Mike’s past that ties nicely into the themes of ageing and legacy that the film already establishes with Marcus.

The film also introduces some new welcome foils for the central pair in the form of the Advanced Miami Metro Operations (AMMO) team, made up of Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton and led by Paola Nuñez’s Rita (someone cast her as Lois Lane ASAP, please). It’s a welcome sign that the series is moving with the times that Hudgens and Nuñez’s are the only “babes” in the film, and are competent modern policewomen, improving over some of the representation in the series in the past. Even the “sexy” dance club scenes from the previous films are gently mocked.

With news that a fourth entry in the series with the same writer involved is on the way, I’m not sure if the same revisionist take on the material could work so well a second time but if you enjoyed the previous Bad Boys movies in any way (unironically, or not) you’re sure to enjoy the hell out of this one.

Also DJ Khaled is credited for his cameo as “Khaled ‘DJ Khaled’ Khaled” and what’s not to love about that?

Bad Boys for Life
124 minutes
Directors: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah
Writers: Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, and Joe Carnahan
Cast: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Paola Nuñez, Joe Pantoliano, Paola Nuñez, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, and Michel Bay.

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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