“We ride together, we die together. Bad Boys for life.” -Bad Boys
For a number of reasons some franchises just take absolutely forever to come to fruition as opposed to others. The John Wick franchise has released three installments within a five year period with a fourth on the way in the next two years. It’s 2020 and Bad Boys 3 has just hit theaters with the first installment having premiered a staggering twenty-five years ago, the second film, seventeen years ago. While not exactly a winner in the eyes of critics, general audiences have embraced Marcus and Mike from the very beginning. It’s a wonder why it’s taken this long but I guess rather than poke and prod I should just be happy, as a fan, that it’s finally here.
I make no excuses or pretend that these movies are anything more than thoughtless, explosion stuffed gun nut wet dreams but dammit sometimes that’s exactly what I’m looking for, a good ol’ shoot ‘em up with some likeable characters. The idea of watching nothing but brain twisting, ambiguously structured arthouse fair sounds downright exhausting. Insert Bad Boys for Life.
With the third outing we see a lot of the same familiar back and forth between our favorite cop duo, Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey. Where this particular edition separates itself is in the aged weariness of our heroes. One is halfway out the door on his way to retirement while the other is hell bent on kicking ass and taking names until his heart gives out. This chasm grows over time creating resentment between them. Before long their lives drift in opposite directions until a violent catalyst in the form of past mistakes rearing its ugly head brings them back together for one final battle, this time for the right to give the future a chance rather than dwelling on the history of their wild youth.
The first film was a sort of introduction to these two characters and the overall dynamics of their relationship. The intricacies of that friendship comes out in the way they fight and shoot their way to a closed case. In the second film it further explores the outside influences causing pressure on their future, things like Marcus’ family life expanding as Mike continues to pursue a life of action and mindless frivolity. It’s about an adjustment in perspective of what exactly their partnership means to each of them. The third explores these themes with the added burden of an unforgiving reality where ageless bad boys like they once saw themselves as has no place in their current situation. They’re getting older and the consequences of their choices grow more and more in severity and importance. They ask themselves how do they maintain their identities while altering the thing that has defined them for so long.
While certainly the most introspective of the three, Bad Boys for Life is without a doubt still action packed with moments of filthy R rated comedy that we all know and love about the franchise. The action hits, the bodies fall, it just happens with a baby seat in the backseat of a minivan; much to Mike’s chagrin.
Judging by the division of action sequences between each actor makes this feel like a project they felt had to happen for reasons other than it was a great story. Will Smith has always been the more action oriented character of the franchise but Martin Lawrence was always there to bring up the back end, he still laid the bad guys out holding his own. This time around he feels like nothing more than the comedic relief who acts as the walking contradiction to every one of Mike’s choices. He has his moments where he shoots and gets his hands dirty so-to-speak but overall it feels like they couldn’t get Lawrence to participate in the action so much this time around. It’s clear the moment you see them that Smith has kept up his physical attributes whereas Lawrence hasn’t. He’s gotten older and it shows more and so the script seemingly had to adjust accordingly. Marlon Brando was supposed to be in the best shape of his life for Apocalypse Now and instead showed up to set fat and bald. The story then changed. Not saying this is the case with Lawrence but judging by the end credits scene, I think a future without Lawrence is being considered. Time will tell.
Overall Bad Boys for Life is as silly as the previous but with a more focused look at the villainy of time. It has lots of fun, funny action sequences that continue to showcase the dynamics of how they fight but also how they interact with one another. Their family lives are on full display bringing back hilarious callbacks and creating new histories yet to be explored. No matter what happens storywise, the reason this franchise works is the focus remains on the partnership/friendship of these once bad boys turned bad men. Whatcha gonna do?!
Rated R For: Strong Bloody Violence, Language Throughout, Sexual References, and Brief Drug Use
Runtime: 123 minutes
After Credits Scene: Mid-credits
Genre: Action, Crime, Comedy
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano, Paola Nuñez
Directed By: Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 3.5/ Directing: 3.5/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 3.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: For fans of the previous two, Yes.
Check out the trailer below:
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