Despite the first Bad Boys being over twenty years old and the second one catching up to that, I’ve actually never seen a single one in it’s entirety. With the newest installment in the franchise coming out, Bad Boys for Life, I was very skeptical. This had a lot to due with the fact that the last one came out in the early 2000’s and anytime Hollywood releases a sequel over ten years after its predecessor, it usually means at the studio wants to make a quick buck. Was this film a quick cash grab, or a genuine film to please long time fans? Let’s find out.
Bad Boys for Life is the third entry in the twenty-five-year old series. We follow Mike and Marcus (Will Smith and Martin Lawrence), two “Bad Boy” loose cannon cops who’ve been trying to keep the streets of Miami clean since the first film. One night after celebrating the birth of Marcus’s grandson, the two start talking about their divergent plans for the future. Because they can’t make separate decisions for themselves (hence the name of the film), they make a bet to decide their next step in life via a foot race. That gets cut short when a gunman shoots Mike, critically wounding him. While that may seem like a random encounter, the gunman was the son of a female Mexican criminal sent to take out Mike and other figures that put her behind bars. From there Mike and Marcus team up with a unit in the Miami Police Department called Ammo while they figure out who the gunman is and what their next move.
I won’t sugarcoat the fact that I was not looking forward to Bad Boys for Life because it’s a sequel that’s long overdue and the trailers prior to its release were not selling it well. But I have to say I was happily surprised for many reasons and one of them being the characters. When Mike gets gunned down and is in a comatose state, Marcus turns to God for help and vows against violence from that point. It’s kind of rare these days that a mainstream film shows a character turn to faith in desperate times, and I for one will always admire a movie for attempting to do that. While the character doesn’t 100% follow up with that (and I will go into more details about that later), it was nice to see someone putting God first in a desperate scenario. Other factors I liked in this film were the action and humor. While I’m not a big fan of gratuitous violence, the action featured car chases and hand to hand combat that were fun to watch and edited well compared to other films I’ve seen where it’s quick and sloppy. As for the humor, I found it to be quite enjoyable, which was a big surprise as I thought it was going to be nothing but F bombs scattered throughout. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence definitely have great chemistry with each other, and I think that’s what helped make this an entertaining and humorous film.
While I did have fun with the humor and action, Bad Boys for Life had flaws that I couldn’t ignore. One of my pet peeves in action films is convenient timing and there was plenty of it in here. For example, how did the gunman know where Mike and the other people he gunned were going to be? How did the team that Mike and Marcus were working for always arrive when they desperately needed them? How did Mike survive gunshots to the chest? The movie doesn’t explain all that and expects you to go along with it. Another problem I had was the character development. While there was barely any with the new characters, my biggest gripe was with Marcus. As mentioned earlier in the review, Marcus starts leading a pacifistic life-style after his talk with God and throughout the film he keeps good on word. That unfortunately gets put aside when he has to use lethal force to save his partner, and from there he becomes a loose cannon again. The silver lining with that, though, is some of his pacifistic nature rubs off on Mike near the end, and without going into spoilers he was able to use that influence he got against one of the antagonists.
I wouldn’t want to recommend Bad Boys for Life to those who are sensitive to violence and humor/language that may seem offensive. But if you’re in the mood for a cheesy buddy cop film and don’t want to think much, then I would recommend it. If they were to make a fourth film, I hope it doesn’t take near twenty years to make it.