It’s been seventeen years since the last time we saw Detective Mike Lowery (Will Smith) and Detective Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence). Seventeen years since we saw the two adrenalin-fueled detectives cause chaos and mayhem up and down South Beach in Miami, shooting up bad guys while cracking jokes back-and-forth at each other and getting yelled at by their quick-tempered Captain (Joe Pantoliano).
Man, did I miss these guys.
The Bad Boys series is a series that I love whole-heartedly. Both films I saw at a very formative age and have loved since then. The first film introduced the world to Michael Bay and showed that Will Smith and Martin Lawrence were movie-stars, while Bad Boy II is one of my favorite action movies ever and the best movie of Michael Bay’s career. Though being on a break for so long, I was very excited to see Mike and Marcus team up again for another thriller.
Bad Boys for Life is an absolute blast filled with explosive action, plenty of laughs, and a lot of heart.
Marcus and Mike are getting old but doing their lives differently. Marcus has become a grandpa and is having serious thoughts about retirement, while Mike refuses to settle down and wants to be a cop until he literally can’t do it anymore. When the past comes back to take down Mike, Mike makes it his mission to get his target while Marcus tries to enjoy retirement, yet finds it difficult when he realizes he can’t leave the life.
Bad Boys for Life was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah and not Michael Bay, who directed the first two films. Bay is known for being one of the most insane action directors in the game, while Arbi and Fallah are two up-and-comers in Hollywood, with this movie being their first major film. The action in the film is very exciting and there are some cool set-pieces, particularly the night club street chase, but there was something missing. The sequences aren’t as crisp in terms of their editing and how they look and we’re missing the destruction. One of the best things Bay does as a director in all of his movies is show you all of the mayhem he is producing. We see the crashes, the explosions, the guns, the bullets, and all the collateral damage, which is always a sight to see. I always think of the Bad Boys II bridge chase where we saw dozens of cars and a boat explode on a bridge when I think of Bay showing the damage. In Bad Boys For Life, we don’t necessarily see or feel all the chaos and the sequences aren’t as tightly put together as before.
But Bad Boys for Life isn’t fully concerned with its action. This is a movie about getting old and struggling with your own mortality and legacy. Mike and Marcus have always been on different wave-lengths when it came to life. Marcus has always been a family man who always puts his family first, while Mike is a cop first and doesn’t have time for a family. But when Marcus becomes a grandfather and see his family growing, he realizes that his time as a cop might be up, even if there is someone after Mike. Mike, on the other hand, won’t quit the cop life, especially when he finds out someone is trying to kill him. But as Mike is on the case, he begins to realize he may have lost a step or two and that he may need some assistance to solve this case rather than stick to his old ways. There is a twist in the movie that didn’t work fully for me as a plot point, but worked for me in terms of the arch of the characters, as it makes Mike think about his past, his legacy, and his future more than he ever had before. Bad Boys For Life has the most heart and emotion of any of the Bad Boys movies and it is the element that makes the film as good as it is.
Smith and Lawrence are firing on all cylinders, not missing a beat after seventeen years. Their endless banter is on point and you really buy that they have been partners for so long. Bad Boys For Life not only looks at Mike and Marcus’ legacy, but the legacy and careers of Smith and Lawrence. Since Bad Boys II in 2003, Smith and Lawrence have had wildly different careers. Lawrence kind of left the acting world, making movies when he wanted, yet never going fully into the superstar territory, much like Marcus always committing to his family first over the cop life. Smith, on the other hand, continued to be one of the biggest stars in the world, only to see his star crumble over the last ten years and Smith trying to get it back. Between Gemini Man and this one, Smith is showing us that he is trying to move on from his past and grow in a different direction, even if he has to change some of his old ways. This is quite a meta-narrative for a summer blockbuster that’s being released in January, but it adds another layer to the already impressive and fun film.
January is usually a dead time at the movies. It’s over-run by Oscar players and trash horror movies. Bad Boys for Life comes along to give us a truly fun movie in this dreary month. With fun action, endless comedy, a smart plot, some fun call-backs, tons of emotion and heart, and perfect banter and chemistry from Smith and Lawrence, Bad Boys for Life is yet another excellent entry in the franchise. Though Smith and Lawrence have had wildly differently careers, the two of them showed up strong for this one and will probably show up for any future Bad Boys films. Why? Because as Mike and Marcus would say, “We ride together. We die together. Bad boys for life.”
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