Bad Boys for Life Movie Review
Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when your actors get too old for you? Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return to their 90’s/early 2000’s franchise with a long overdue sequel—Bad Boys for Life—and the end result is a little better than you might expect, while still being long in the tooth.
Much of the movie has Smith and Lawrence, as detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett respectively, bickering and commiserating about how old they’re getting—Marcus wants to retire (he’s looking a little pudgy these days), while Mike has no interest in settling down (he looks about the same). If it sounds a lot like Lethal Weapon 4, it is, only compared to Riggs and Murtaugh, Mike and Marcus have always been surface-level characters—so you really don’t care that much.
As a big fan of Bad Boys and, at the time, Bad Boys II (I was in college at the time, so who cares if they singlehandedly declared war on Cuba?), I was, for a time, looking forward to a second sequel. Nearly two decades later, though, the excitement is faded, and Bad Boys for Life is what we get: a decent if uninspired experience with some solid action sequences but not a whole lot else.
Though Michael Bay has thankfully passed the torch to two guys named Adil and Bilall (don’t worry, Bayhards, he appears as an actor this time around), the movie still boasts a pretty good card/motorcycle chase, a few shootouts, and an explosive finale that, while maybe not at “Cuba invasion” levels, delivers a modest amount of excitement and plenty of blood spilled. Staying true to form, the camera still loves to revolve around its stars—literally—in ways even Hot Fuzz can’t replicate.
When Bad Boys for Life kicks into action mode, the film comes to life. But too much time is spent with Mike and Marcus talking about the same damn things over and over again, or introducing a bunch of underdeveloped supporting characters, or setting up what could have been some pretty sinister villains only for the rug to be pulled out from under them in the third act. The movie has a few terrific laugh-out-loud moments, but for the most part it isn’t as funny as the filmmakers likely intended, and the screenplay should have more tightly told its revenge plot and carried it through from beginning to end.
There’s a good movie in here, and at times Adil and Bilall narrow in on it—frequently enough to make Bad Boys for Life worth a viewing. A slightly better plot, fewer characters, less talking, and more action would have gone a long way, however. Is that too much to ask?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.