Bad Boys For Life
Jacob Richardson | 16/01/2020
The Bad Boys are back with the best installment of the series.
Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), aka the Bad Boys, are back. But despite the seemingly never changing face of Will Smith, they are both much older - so old in fact that Marcus is thinking of retiring. Mike, meanwhile, is gunned down in the street and hospitalised by a Mexican cartel; one of a series of law enforcement killings linked to an old case. While a God-fearing Marcus swears a pact of non-violence to keep his friend alive, a recovered Mike is hellbent on revenge; revenge he and Marcus can only get if they partner up with the new AMMO team, headed up by Mike’s former flame Rita (Paola Nunez).
A new directorial duo of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah take over the franchise from Michael Bay for this third instalment, and what they bring is absolute comparative magic. Doing an incredible job of blending action, comedy and heart, Bad Boys For Life is perhaps the great action movie of the year (an early call for sure).
Smith and Lawrence reprise their roles and they fit like an absolute glove. The banter back and forth is suitably cheesy, frequently funny and rapid fire. Smith in particular feels back on form, a little bit less G-rated than we have seen him of late and all the better for it. The supporting cast all play it up extraordinarily in relatively one-dimensional roles, and do so with bloody aplomb. Vanessa Hudgens is great as gunfight loving Kelly, Joe Pantoliano makes an impact as the frustrated and sage Captain Howard, Alexander Ludwig’s Dorn has some genuine hero moments, and even Charles Melton’s hateable Rafe is a joy to watch.
From an action perspective, Bad Boys For Life is also fantastic. This directorial duo makes this action feel fresh and new, from the go-pro style drive by shootings and body cam perspective gun battles, to the car chases, foot chases and regular old explosions. The film even manages to bring some bonafide heart to the piece, and even the predictable and cheesy moments (the fist bump team up, the song, etc.) feel remarkably earned - something other remakes and reboots frequently fail to achieve.
In the end, Bad Boys For Life is an out and out 90’s action movie; a homage to glory days gone by. This is a movie that doesn’t stack up quality wise with something like Marriage Story or Inception - the script is cheesy and predictable, the action is bombastic but expected, and the plot is almost pointless. But as a reboot of a beloved franchise, it brings all the elements you want to see back, updates them to be even better and more refined than before, and delivers over and above expectations. This is no great dramatic feat, nor thoughtful actioner - but for what it is trying to be, Bad Boys For Life is absolutely perfect.
Bad Boys For Life won’t win a shiny Oscar, but it will get you cheering in your seat and loving every second of screentime.