DIRECTED BY: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah
STARRING: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Núñez, Kate del Castillo, Jacob Scipio, Joe Pantoliano, Theresa Randle, Massi Furlan, Bianca Bethune, Dennis Greene, Nicky Jam, Jamie Neumann and DJ Khaled
Marcus and Mike have to confront new issues (career changes and midlife crises), as they join the newly created elite team AMMO of the Miami police department to take down the ruthless Armando Armas, the vicious leader of a Miami drug cartel.
With the original film released in 1995, the sequel released in 2003, I really did not expect it to take seventeen years for the third in the Bad Boys franchise to be released. To be honest, I didn’t expect a third film at all. Michael Bay, director of the first two films, had moved on to destroy Florence with Ryan Reynolds and friends, while Bad Boys For Life was struggling to get off the mark and into production, losing a director in the process in Joe Carnahan due to scheduling conflicts, as this film was initially pencilled in to be a 2017 release. But, the studio brought in two young directors in Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah and fast forward to now where Bad Boys For Life has finally made it to cinemas this weekend. The film focuses on Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett on the tail end of their careers for the Miami Police Department, with Mike hanging on to that spotlight and keeping up with the younger generation, whilst Marcus is eyeing up retirement. While a newly created elite team known as AMMO sets up at Miami PD, an assassination attempts lead to unknown assailant getting revenge on those that wronged one of their own.
The main constant of these films has been the chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and thankfully that’s still showcased here as if the two have been in continuous meetings with each other for the last seventeen years. The film is also self-aware as well when it comes to their ages and still referring to themselves as Bad Boys, with others constantly calling them out on it. The film continues on their character arcs from the previous, with Mike Lowrey still living life large and trying to maintain that aura of invincibility and legendary status at the Miami PD, while Marcus Burnett has made himself more spiritually aware after all their passed investigations and actions. For all the melodrama and action, it’s their relationship that make these films have a special place for audiences, and the way the two work so well together is that they don’t temper on the others method, with Will Smith doing the action and Martin Lawrence at hand for the reaction. There’s also some moments of emotion weight here that actually worked for me, and I wasn’t expecting that coming in and as for the comedy, that worked well also as this film doesn’t take itself too seriously as some of the other films in the genre. While the film tackles the old guard meeting the new, more tech-savy generation, by the end I did enjoy the new AMMO crew, as it gives them time to shine individually as characters, from Charles Menton’s Rafe, Vanessa Hudgens’ Kelly, to Alexander Ludwig’s Dorn. Who impresses most from the new cast is Paola Núñez as AMMO leader Rita, who has a history with Mike and Núñez gives a really good performance in the role. It’s also nice to see some familiar faces as well, from original cast members Joe Pantoliano as Captain Howard and Theresa Randle as Marcus’s wife Theresa, and also another familiar face from Bad Boys II that I won’t get into, but once I realised who it was I couldn’t help but smile. This is the first film I’ve seen from directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah and I must say I liked their direction here, they manage to stay true to the visual styles of the franchise (the usual camera shots, angles) whilst making it their own. They also shot the action in a way that it could be clear to see, wide-shots and hold for longer than the fast-paced edits/cuts of the second film especially.
As the film does have the visual style of the previous films, it definitely doesn’t have the Bayhem flair, there’s no action-sequence say that can have the memorable sequence from the previous films, like car chase on the bridge in Bad Boys II, or that car/man chase from the first. For anyone not a fan of the previous films, I’m not sure this will be for them either as the films melodrama is cliched, by the numbers and whilst the villains are the most developed out of the franchise and provide an actual threat to our heroes, it’s not saying much compared to how one-dimensional the previous villains were. Also the final act is a bit all-over the place in terms of execution.
Bad Boys For Life is a genuine surprise for this early 2020 film season, particularly for a film that’s been so long in the making. The chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence still shines through, with the new cast making solid impressions that make you interested in seeing them explored further. While there’s some plot points you can see coming a mile away, if you were a fan of the action and comedy in the previous films then you wouldn’t really care here. Please if we are getting the fourth film as reported, be a lot quicker on it this time rather than waiting another seventeen years please.