2020 kicks off here at DeaconsDen with a reunion of old friends. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return as the hilarious combo of Miami PD detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. Bad Boys For Life is the 3rd entry in the action-comedy series that began in 1995 with Bad Boys and continued in 2003 with Bad Boys II. This film is directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. They take over the reins from Michael Bay who directed the previous films. The story follows Lowrey and Burnett as they track down an assassin that is taking out people from an old case.
First things first, the chemistry between Smith and Lawrence has not missed a beat. These two were huge in the 90s and even 25 years later you still have that banter and wit that was present in the first film. Add in returning cast members Teresa Randall as Marcus’ wife Theresa and Joe Pantoliano as the long suffering Captain Howard and you have the mix for a great time. The key difference however is the change in direction. Michael Bay, I think it’s safe to say is not a well regarded director. 1995’s Bad Boys was his directorial debut where you could see what he was able to do and what he likes to do. Bad Boys II, is pure Bayhem and while I love both of these films and have blast watching them, they aren’t the best films in terms of character. Bay’s movies have tendencies to be immature and bloated. I put up with it just fine but I know a great deal of movie watchers do not. We love our two leads and it’s mostly their show, but there isn’t much to them in terms of substance. Bad Boys For Life won’t result in Academy Award nominations for acting or screenplay, but what it does that Bay’s entries do not, is attempt to be reflective and earnest. With Smith and Lawrence older actors, the film constantly comments on the passing of time. Marcus contemplates retirement and Mike having difficulty fitting in with a new squad of younger officers, are some of the things that film moves to the forefront. Marcus even talks to Mike about the importance of a positive legacy. (Commentary on the past films?) You’ll never say the film is deep and it’s probably as deep as it can be for a film that is a star driven action piece, but Arbi and Fallah make a darn good effort to give this franchise some meaning and life to a type of film that isn’t as big a deal as it once was in the 80s and 90s. This is a huge positive step in evolving the series.
The only knock I have with Bad Boys for Life is with the action sequences. They aren’t bad at all, they are very well done, I just felt they lacked a bit a pizazz that’s Bay does best. Bad Boys II was a lot of things and most of those things weren’t positive, but it was amazing on the action front.
Bad Boys for Life believe it or not doesn’t fall victim to the adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” It recognizes its past and makes the effort to show it has grown up while still providing thrills and great comic chemistry from Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. I love putting on the Bad Boys movies and just rolling with things and that still hold true with this third entry. Bring on that fourth film.