Bad Boys for Life proves that some franchises really are timeless no matter how long the wait for the next installment.
It’d be crazy for Will Smith and Martin Lawrence to pretend it hasn’t been 25 years since they first ran the streets in the original Bad Boys and the third outing acknowledges that yes, even Bad Boys have to grow up sometime.
Bad Boys II felt like a long time coming when it finally arrived in 2003, but Director Michael Bay crammed in enough off the wall action that it basically felt like a second and third sequel rolled into one.
After nearly two decades, Smith and Lawrence are back and their unique chemistry remains fully intact.
As usual Marcus Burnett (Lawrence, Death at a Funeral) is on the verge of retiring especially with his family expanding. Mike Lowrey (Smith, Gemini Man) has no intention of hanging up his detective badge.
Mike might get a longer retirement as an escaped felon (Kate del Castillo) and the would-be new prince of Miami (Jacob Scipio) look to settle a long-standing feud and take him out permanently.
While the extra 17 years are apparent — the Bad Boys now look like grown men with fuller faces and grey hairs are creeping in — the passage of time actually makes sense in the context of the film.
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Smith and Lawrence might lack the same boundless charisma and energy they had back in 95, but it’s been replaced by life experiences that have made them better performers. It’s a solid trade off and makes the film better than it would be if their age was ignored.
Franchise supporting stars Theresa Randle and Joe Pantoliano return and are joined by series newcomers Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton and Paola Nunez as an modern elite police unit. The script by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan doesn’t spend too much time on what could have been a tired old school vs. new school dynamic.
Although he makes a cameo Bay doesn’t direct this installment. The baton has been passed to Billal Fallah & Adil El Arbi. This is easily the biggest project of the directing duo’s career, but it’s clear early on why they got the gig. The duo clearly have a fondness for Miami and showcase the sun and neon-drenched city in all of its splendor with wide sweeping shots and cranked up colors. And yes, they do include the signature Bay “slow-motion rising up” shot
For Life still has that spastic action style of a Bay action flick while evolving to more modern action films — there’s some John Wick influences in some of the action sequences. The action feels less chaotic and cohesive where you can make out what’s happening. Again, the directing takes into account the stars aren’t twentysomethings anymore and Bilal & Adil lay out the action where their movements aren’t unrealistic.
You’ll get the sense that maybe…just maybe this might be the final ride for these Bad Boys, but it also wouldn’t be a shocker if they reunited in a decade for another equally fun ride. The only question now is what they gonna do? If a post credit stinger is any indication, it might not be that long after all.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures