Review: Bad Boys For Life

The Bad Boys franchise started 24 years ago. It was the start of s buddy cop film series that followed two detectives solving crimes in Miami. Almost two and a half decades later, what compelling story could they tell that hadn’t already been told? Well….they found one.

Bad Boys For Life picks up some time after 2003’s Bad Boys 2. Marcus (Martin Lawrence) has his mind set on retiring after the birth of his grandson, while Mike (Will Smith) is still a bachelor that plans on running down criminals until he’s 100 years old. After an assassination attempt on Mike, Marcus and Mike team up together for one last time to find the shooter.

To solve the attempt on Mike’s life, Mike and Marcus are forced team up with a new department called AMMO that’s led by Mike’s former girlfriend, Rita (Paola Nunez). AMMO uses drones, the internet, and non-lethal tactics to solve their crimes. It’s not Mike Lowery’s style.

The Bad Boys films work for two reasons: Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.  Lawrence and Smith are the lifeblood of these films. The two have had incredible onscreen chemistry since the beginning and that magic returns in this film. Unlike the previous films, the two detectives are a lot more emotionally mature and vulnerable this time around. It’ creates a different dynamic in their relationship. They’re not the bulletproof duo from the previous films.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Bad Boys film without crazy action through the streets of Miami and there is plenty of that- shootouts, car chases, club scenes, and plenty of running. Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah capture some imaginative action sequences along with the vibrant colors and styles that make Miami a beautiful city. The best action sequence involves a stakeout that goes wrong. It’s the first time you get to see Mike and the AMMO squad in action. One of the bright spots in AMMO is Vanessa Hudgens (as Kelly). She handles herself very well during the action sequences. I hope she does more action movies in the future.

Even with Lawrence and Smith being the glue that holds the film together, the mystery that surrounds the plot helps keep the story interesting. The trailers and the first two acts do an excellent job of not giving anything away. If you’ve seen a buddy cop film, you know how this film plays out. The two detectives, one is seeking revenge and the other retiring. They shake down criminals throughout the city and follow the breadcrumbs to the final boss. Within that structure, this film finds a way to add another layer to make things more interesting (and ridiculous). It also allows for a level of jokes the film desperately needed and the characters take full advantage of it.

Bad Boys is a lot of fun. It’s everything fans of the franchise could want. It’s funny throughout and shifts into high octane action when it needs to. It has the action you’d expect to see in a Bad Boys film along with some unexpected heartfelt moments and a really solid villain. I don’t know if this is the last film, but it’s a fitting end to an enjoyable franchise.

Grade: B