After watching Bad Boys For Life I’ve had a bit of an epiphany. I’ve always thought of the Bad Boys movies as a Will Smith franchise, and to a lesser extent the beginnings of the cinematic flare of Michael Bay. But I have come to realise that Martin Lawrence is what makes Bad Boys. He is loud, annoyed and just straight up hilarious, Will Smith being the straight(er) guy! I haven’t seen Lawrence in anything for a long time, and wasn’t even aware that I missed him. I also didn’t realise how much I wanted a new instalment, Bad Boys II being released a whopping 17 years ago. But when I saw the trailer for this new one, it may have been my most anticipated movie of 2020 so far.
Bad Boys For Life takes the route that most old action franchises do when making a sequel so long after the last one, tackling the issue of these action men not being able to do what they once could, because they’re getting older. Cop Marcus Bernett (Lawrence) is on the verge of retirement when the family of a deceased drug kingpin begins hunting down all the culprits that brought him to justice, which just happens to include his partner Mike Lowrey (Smith). With his best mate in the firing line, the two decide to ride and die together, one last time. But when they are forced to work with new kids on the block, a tactical team codenamed AMMO, they may need to rethink their out-of-date violent approach to police work.
It is just such a joy to see Smith and Lawrence back together. They have such great chemistry when ripping on each other. The banter is just as hilarious as always and they can be rather savage, but underneath it all the love that these two bros have for each other is downright charming.
Now, although it may still look like a Michael Bay movie, the trademark low angle, swooping hero shot is present many a time, but Bay’s only involvement is a cameo as a wedding MC. But new directors Adil & Bilall do a great job of replicating the spectacle maestro with fast-paced, visually appealing direction, perhaps even improving on what we may have got if the ‘Bayhem’ was in full effect. But don’t think the action is lacking here, it is high octane cinema at its finest.
The team of young cops that are assigned to help our protagonists are clearly just there for the stereotypical goal of making old man jokes, ala Expendables 3. And not unlike that film, they are greatly underused, in fear of overshadowing our middle-aged stars. I love Vanessa Hudgens, but she is just background and Alexander Ludwig of Vikings fame has some comedic promise as the buff tech geek, but doesn’t really get much screen time. To be honest though, this really didn’t shake me too much, I just wanted to see Smith and Lawrence do their thing, and this frees up plenty of time for that.
Speaking of time, that’s probably my biggest gripe with the film, it’s way too long for an action flick. running just over two hours and it did feel like it was overstaying its welcome in the final act. Short and sharp I say, especially for action comedy.
Besides Michael Bay’s cameo, DJ Khaled makes a fun appearance, getting bitch slapped around by Mike Lowrey and a lot of old favourites return. Marcus’s wife Theresa and Captain Howard are most welcome back on screen, as well as young Reggie, the young dude dating Marcus’ daughter, who the bad boys gave a hard time in episode 2.
In a nutshell, Bad Boys For Life is dumb, adrenaline fuelled, laugh-out-loud fun. A simple, somewhat tired plot doesn’t take away from that. Just think of it as a great way to get these characters back together, one…. more….. time. Although I’m not sure how true that is, there’s a bit of a tease of a sequel at the end, and a quick look at IMDB will reveal a Bad Boys 4 in pre-production. Well this fan would be down for another ride.
4/5 – Should Watch