My hopes were not high for ‘Bad Boys for Life’. Sony Pictures has been churning out sequels and remakes to their most prominent properties over the past couple of years and almost all of them have been critical and commercial duds. You see things like Charlie’s Angels and Men in Black: International getting hounded and it’s not hard to see why they miss the point or feel like soulless cash grabs. Where is the fun of the original in MIB? Well, I think Will Smith took it all with him to the set of Bad Boys because this threequel captured everything you wanted and needed from a new instalment.
Martin Lawrence and Will Smith team back up and slip right back into the sparky chemistry that the public hasn’t been treated to in about 17 years when Bad Boys 2 hit the big screen. I only got to experience these films recently on Blu-ray since these aren’t made for toddlers, and even I felt this overwhelming pleasure of having them reunite on screen for “one last ride”. Jokes fly and bickering ensue for the entire runtime and it is just a joy to be seen. Almost everything landed and had the audience in fits of laughter, so much so that they started to laugh at bits that weren’t even intended to be funny at my screening. I think we needed this Will Smith back, the easy-going and funny type that is seen in this franchise because, after duds like Gemini Man where he plays a serious assassin/spy-thing I was kind of worried for him.
The story picks up right where you’d expect it to. The Bad Boys are both ageing and on the verge of retirement but still locking people up, this is all thrown upside down when a Mexican drug lord’s wife swears revenge on them and sends her son to go and take over Miami’s crime syndicates and assassinate a bunch of people. They also play into other tropes from modern police-based films, like the old cops having to deal with the younger and higher-tech team that always play by the rules. It isn’t overly eye-rolling as a lot of the new characters introduced here are at least interesting or funny.
There are other things at play here, but they would class as spoilers, and I have to say that some of the best things about this movie are the twists and unexpected moments. But I will say the plot is, of course, convoluted and plays a lot like a TV soap opera, but you can be sure that they know this as they regularly make references to it being like a telenovela. This means everything is over the top but that’s ok, its Bad Boys.
This sense of over-the-top extends into the action, because, well, its an action-comedy. The series used to be overseen by the master of explosions, Michael Bay, however, he isn’t at the helm anymore and instead, we have duo directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah taking the reins. The mayhem from the master remains in their own unique way and still have the comedy you’d expect to run through. Standouts include a bust in a car garage and a motorbike (and sidecar) chase through the streets of Miami both of which looked great in Screen X. Yes, I saw this in Screen X, the projection system that extends the image through computer-generated images on the wall. Personally, I wasn’t overly thrilled when I saw Spider-Man in the format previously but my top tip is to sit further to the front and not pay too much attention to it, it will kind of help with immersion.
Overall though, Bad Boys for Life is probably some of the best fun you’ll have at the cinema right now. Lawrence and Smith are both on top form in the comedy department, and it is some very easy escapism that should leave you happy with your ticket purchase. That isn’t to write the film off as nothing, it actually has an interesting story going on and with some of the revelations in the movie, I’m actually excited to see where the franchise goes next. This wasn’t the “one last ride” that the trailer implied but, who cares? I’d watch like 3 more of these films easily. So, congratulations to Sony. They got their franchise.
My mother has told me that if I give this anything less than 5 stars she will kick me out of the house but…
While you’re here can I get you to have a look at our latest podcast? We go through all the Oscar nominations and make our predictions for the show. You could also have a look at some of my other reviews!