Bad Boys for Life (2020)
“Bad Boys for Life” stars Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Núñez, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam, and Joe Pantoliano. Released on January 17, 2020, the film has Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett facing off against the leader of a dangerous cartel.
The film is directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who also directed “Image”, “Black”, and “Patser”. It is the third installment in the “Bad Boys” film series. When there are a bunch of bad guys running loose in the city, these two guys will answer the call. After being off duty for more than a decade, the self-proclaimed “Bad Boys” are finally coming out of retirement to shoot and argue their way to our hearts once again. The first two “Bad Boys” films were responsible for putting Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, and explosion fanatic Michael Bay on the Hollywood map. While the former two found success in their other films after “Bad Boys”, Michael Bay is still struggling to keep himself out of the critics’ naughty lists as of today. Even though Bay’s not returning to complete this adult-rated action trilogy, Smith and Lawrence were confident enough to reprise their roles as their respective characters for the third time. I enjoyed “Bad Boys” and its sequel for plenty of reasons, including the two main leads and the action, so I was pretty excited to see this latest sequel, especially since Martin Lawrence is making an onscreen comeback after his eight-year absence. Was the wait worth it? Let’s find out.
The story once again follows Michael Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence), two detectives who work in the Miami Police Department under the command of Captain Howard (Pantoliano). Marcus is heading towards retirement after the birth of his grandson despite Mike’s annoyance. When Mike unexpectedly becomes the target of an assassin, who is sent by the villainous Isabel Aretas (Castillo) to take out the people responsible for the demise of her cartel, he has to rely on a team of tech-driven teens in order to bring the scoundrel to justice. However, an unexpected turn of events forces Mike to reunite with Marcus once again to take care of business, “Bad Boys” style. The “Bad Boys” films have been beloved by everyone for three simple reasons: the two main leads, the action, and the humor. These main ingredients came together to create some delicious junk food for people who are hungry for basic shoot-em-ups, even though they’re not to everyone’s liking. “Bad Boys for Life” is unsurprisingly no exception as it relied on the elements that made the previous two installments successful to create a satisfying and entertaining follow-up that warrants its existence. Not only that, but it added a spoonful of something that’s rarely seen in the first two films. That, my friends, is heart. The film offered a bunch of insane action and comical dialogue that we’ve come to expect from a “Bad Boys” installment, but it never lost sight at giving the characters some added dimension, most notably Mike Lowrey and the primary antagonist, Isabel Aretas. The end result is a fun and action-packed sequel that’s worth the 17-year wait. It didn’t break any new ground in terms of the action genre, but since it completed its task of being an enjoyable piece of popcorn entertainment, I’m more than happy to give this one a pass. Like I mentioned before, Michael Bay did not return to direct this latest installment, although he did make a brief appearance in the film as the wedding MC, so the responsibility of continuing the franchise rests in the hands of two filmmakers from Belgium: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. It was a tough job for them to handle given how popular the films are to their target audiences, but they managed to pull it off quite well. Adil and Bilall were able to maintain the Bay-like style that was shown in the previous installments while sticking with their own, which resulted in a slick and suitable vision that focuses more on balancing the action with its substance rather than the over-the-top “Bayhem” that “Bad Boys II” is known for. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reprised their roles once again as Mike and Marcus respectively, and they were just as amazing as they were in the past. The banter, the charisma, the humor. Everything about the chemistry between Smith and Lawrence still holds up in “Bad Boys for Life” despite the gap in-between sequels. The actors who portray the members of the Advanced Miami Metro Operations unit, such as former “High School Musical” star Vanessa Hudgens and Alexander Ludwig, were also pretty good in their roles even though they’re designed for the purpose of moving the franchise forward with or without the main actors. As for the action sequences, they’re as intense and entertaining as the action in the other ones…with the exception of the constant explosions and shaky-cam maneuvers that Michael Bay is known for in “Bad Boys II”, which was pretty much all action and no substance. I had no problems with the mindless action in “Bad Boys II”, but I can agree with the fact that the action in “Bad Boys for Life” is a bit more grounded and focused compared to the last film.
Overall, “Bad Boys for Life” is exactly what you would expect from a “Bad Boys” film: charismatic, action-packed, and humorous. What makes it even better is the soul it provided that’s not normally found in the first two installments. With the irresistible chemistry between Smith and Lawrence, its engaging action sequences, and a story that provides both humor and heart, this is not only the best film in the franchise, but also the first good movie of the new year. I was starting to get a bit tired of seeing multiple mediocre films in a row this month, so I’m glad to see that a long-awaited sequel like this was able to break that trend. If you’re a fan of the “Bad Boys” franchise, you won’t be disappointed with this film.
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