Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah teamed up to finally bring the long-rumored Bad Boys 3 to life after over a decade in order to reinvigorate the franchise with more new installments certainly on the horizon. “Bad Boys for Life” sees Martin Lawrence and Will Smith returning nearly sixteen years later to reprise their roles as detectives Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowry respectively, as they tag along with a fun team of newcomers. “Bad Boys For Life” is an entertaining film that offers exciting action and plenty of laughs for everyone to enjoy throughout its two-hour runtime, with the exception of a few hiccups and humorless scenes/jokes that occasionally fail to land. The narrative found within “Bad Boys For Life” takes a backseat causing the film to bring summer early.
“Bad Boys For Life” picks up seventeen years after the events of “Bad Boys II” and rehashes some of the same plotlines we have seen before. Detectives Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowry (Will Smith) are still going strong, but after witnessing the birth of his grandson, Marcus decides that it is time for him to step into retirement. The film transitions over and introduces us to a new duo of antagonists, that being crime boss Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo) and her son Armando Aretas (Jacob Scipio); we pick up with Isabel as she breaks free from prison with the help of Armando. With Isabel broken free, she vows to enact revenge on the men she deems responsible for her husband’s death. Isabel sends Armando to the states with a hit list, and at the very top of that list is none other than Mike Lowry. Shortly after Armando’s arrival, tragedy strikes prompting the film to jump forward in time by six months. During that six-month interval, Armando assassinates several of the targets all while building an empire in the city of Miami. With the case now being personal, Marcus and Mike are now determined to bring Armando to justice and end his killing spree once and for all. However, the bad boys are forced to enlist the help of the newly created, Advanced Miami Metro Operations (AMMO) unit which is comprised of four fresh faces, Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens), Dorn (Alexander Ludwig), and Rafe (Charles Melton) who are led by Rita (Paola Nuñez), Mike’s ex-girlfriend. With our team fully assembled, they go forth meeting several colorful characters while shooting and laughing their way to Armando until the final body drops.
“Bad Boys For Life” on many fronts is simply put, a fun film. Immediately the film reintroduces us to the stellar duo of Lawrence and Smith (it’s as if the film knows they are it’s greatest assets) and it feels so right. From the film’s opening moments, the apparent chemistry both Lawrence and Smith exude on-screen feels completely natural for the long-standing crime-fighting partners. Regardless of if they are bouncing jokes off of each other and sharing a laugh or verbally mocking one another, this dynamic duo brings every moment to life in a riveting way that will have audiences smiling and laughing until the very end. When talking about the cast, it should be noted that every member pulls their separate weight. The newcomers from the AMMO unit being Hudgens, Ludwig, and Melton all do a serviceable job of being entertaining more often than not, despite being completely cliched one-note characters. All across the board, the major takeaway that I walked away with after viewing “Bad Boys For Life” is that everyone was having an absolute blast while on set. Another strong mark for this film is its high octane action (it was partially sold on it). “Bad Boys For Life” features a total of three different action set pieces; a close-quarters shootout, a high-speed chase that devolves into a shootout, and a final shootout in a ruined local. These action sequences are distinct in their visual presentation and feel wholly unique when next to one another. Unfortunately, when you look past the scope of the film, nothing done is enthralling or interesting. However, the film is not a complete generic snooze fest given the variance of the environments and the dynamic gimmicks that are added as a bonus ingredient in every shootout. But, barring a few small moments within each action sequence, everything committed within “Bad Boys for Life” has been displayed and executed substantially better in other bombastic action blockbusters.
Despite “Bad Boys For Life” being the only movie in the three-filmed franchise to not be directed by Michael Bay himself, Arbi and Fallah do a fairly good job of replicating his style as the film displays very clear shades of Bay. Does the story take a backseat to the action? Check! Do the characters crack a joke every few seconds? Check! Do several of those jokes fall flat? Check! Is the villain a false menace that accomplishes nothing? Check! (You get the point) “Bad Boys For Life” was not directed by Michael Bay, but it was certainly crafted with all of the ingredients from his shop. The film features a shallow plot with story beats that are quite frankly laughable at times but is enjoyable due to the fun dynamics that are on display by the cast and crew. “Bad Boys For Life” refuses to reinvent the franchise which some will find problematic, while others will find it endearing; personally, I do not love it or hate it, I am indifferent on it, I enjoyed many aspects of the film, but on the flip side could care less about just as many. However, if the next installment (which is definitely on its way) releases in a timely manner and takes no creative leaps forward, all of the glitz and glamour found here will certainly fade away next time.