Action trilogies are tricky to make, mainly due to how often they struggle to capture the success of the original, but how does one explain the record of Bad Boys? The first one was released in 1995 and its sequel in 2003, and now the third entry has been released nearly seventeen years later?! You’d think that, given the film’s popularity with audiences, the sequels would’ve been released within just a couple of years of each other. So, with this long break how does this third entry hold up? Does it match the magic and fun of the previous entries?
Miami, Florida. Filled with sandy beaches, beautiful women and two cops who cause more headaches than a traffic jam in the middle of rush hour. Lieutenant Mike Lowery (Will Smith) still dresses nice, has luck with all the ladies and won’t stop chasing the bad guys no matter how old he gets. Lieutenant Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), on the other hand, is looking forward to calling it quits after all this time on the force. No more chasing bad guys, getting in police pursuits and risking his life for his crazy partner. These two have been partners for twenty-five years and Marcus has finally had enough. He wants to spend time with his family, kick his feet up on the couch and live the life of a retiree.
Things have changed since we last saw these two, most obviously in the age department. Marcus isn’t as fast as he used to be, while Mike is still at the top of his game. The Department has also gone through a change of its own in the form of a new institution called AMMO (Advanced Miami Metro Operations), a tech unit that is wiping away the good old-fashioned type of police work. You know, kicking down doors, chasing criminals and engaging in gunfights. The usual stuff. The people in AMMO are mostly young millennials but amongst them is Officer Rita (Paola Nunez), an old flame of Mike’s. AMMO later plays a big part in both Mike and Marcus’ story, similar to teaching an old dog some new tricks.
The plot focuses on the attempted murder of Mike, who is gunned down on the street following a retirement party for Marcus. The shooting is a tragedy for everyone in the police department (he makes a full recovery, don’t worry) and the killer is later identified as someone who holds a grudge against him, which, to be fair, is a really long list. We later learn the full scale of this, but meanwhile other high-ranking law enforcement personnel are being gunned down by this same man. Bad Boys is known for not having a coherent plot or much of anything that makes sense, a side effect of the first two films being directed by Michael Bay. Those entries always placed a heavy focus on the action while the plot was paper thin, but with this third entry I was surprised at how involved I became in the story. There are some key plot points that I won’t mention because it would spoil too much, but take my word on this: Belgian directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah did the audience and fans right by focusing on a story that we can appreciate.
Yes, there is plenty of action in Bad Boys For Life, but more importantly there’s still the wonderful chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. These two have made this franchise what it is and, while you can say the previous entries were never the greatest action movies, there was always magnetic chemistry between these two actors whenever they worked together on screen. It’s sort of like the other iconic buddy/cop characters in Lethal Weapon: one enjoys the quiet life, while the other is a loose cannon. Main screenwriter Chris Bremner brings their chemistry back in form and the humor between these two is the best in this trilogy by far.
The action sequences are fun to watch, but the movie itself is hilarious from start to finish. I was in a nearly full theater and I heard laughter, cheers and even applause during the screening. The movie may feel a bit long towards the end, but it does have a good story to tell and quite a few surprises up its sleeve. I forget to mention that there are two cameos, one of which made the audience gasp! I’m sure you will too.
Verdict: 4 Stars out of 5
We waited a long time for another Bad Boys and, after being in development hell for so long, it feels great to see Smith and Lawrence together again. The action is great and the humor will have you laughing the entire time. This is also the first film of this trilogy not to be directed by Michael Bay (who directed the previous entries) which I think was a good choice. I have nothing against Bay myself but Arbi and Falllah make the movie feel mature enough to not feel aimed at the teenage demographic, adding a good plot, great characters and not resorting to excessive over-editing to make the film look stylistic. All in all, this is a movie that is a lot of fun.
Bad Boys for Life is worth your time and money, whether you’re a long-time fan of the franchise or not. The humor hurt my stomach from all the laughing and the action itself was fun to watch too. We see some familiar faces, including my favorite character Captain Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano) and learn a few things along the way. Bad Boys for Life is proof that a franchise can still be good even after a draconian wait, and it’s the best Bad Boys film by far. That is until these bad boys come around for yet one more ride.