Back in 2018, I wrote about the Predator franchise, which I nostalgically love, in anticipation of the new instalment, The Predator. I was trusting in Shane Black to prevail with his entry in the series, regardless of the terrible looking trailers the film had released. Afterall, the writer/director of Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang could surely do know wrong. Upon its release date, with excitement coursing through my veins I made my way to the cinema to get my ticket, the candy bar to get my overpriced combo, then finally to my seat. What followed was one hour and forty-seven minutes of moans and groans (there were admittingly a couple laughs) as I watched a franchise destroy itself. I then almost cried with disappointment as Boyd Holbrook uttered the words ‘It’s a Predator Killer’ in the final moments of the film. Such a lame name for such a lame suit. Though I am now unsure if maybe it was completely unscripted, and he was talking about the film itself the entire time?
It is because of The Predator that I have approached the release of Bad Boys for Life with caution, but – it has been hard to get excited though, as the film has been largely unpromoted, at least in my neck of the woods. Bad Boys and Bad Boys 2 are a couple of films that I treasure from back when Michael Bay was making films that had decent characters with meaningful relationships in them – unlike his recent 6 Underground. Like the Lethal Weapon Series, the two lead characters, a loose cannon and a family man, are the perfect dynamic for a buddy-cop-action, offering all the relationship dynamics you might want to see on screen and combining it with some first class action, and I mean action, not just high-tech stunts and fast cuts that we see in most ‘action’ films these days, and the aforementioned 6 Underground – which I find highly boring these days.
Still apprehensive about feeling like I was in for a good time in any way shape or form, I booked my ticket online, I headed to the cinema after work, I made my way to the candy bar – beers this time though – if it was a bad movie, at least I could drown my sorrows – and then I made my way to my seat.
The cinema lights turned off, the movie started, and shortly after the opening sequences, I though I was in for another experience like I had had with The Predator. A dull new entry into an almost forgotten franchise which would only be remembered for the few laughs it delivered.
But as time wore on, the relationship of old, between Mike (Will Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence) began to shine through. As did the relationship between those two and Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) – and the relationship between Captain Howard and Stress.
It also forged new relationships, bringing in a new young team, presumably to take over the series after Will Smith and Martin Lawrence – to quote Lethal Weapon – get too old for this shit.
In addition to the original duo, we are introduced to Rita – a great detective and leader, but also an old Mike Lowry flame – played by Paola Nuñez. Rita, leads AMMO, a special team that is part of the Miami PD. The team consists of Kelly, played by Vanessa Hudgens, Rafe, played by Charles Melton, and finally Dorn, played hilariously by Alexander Ludwig – who surely has a big future ahead. Collectively, no one puts a foot wrong, as they go head to head with a new nemesis in the form of Mike Lowry’s first ever undercover bust in – Isabel Aretas – played scarily by Kate Del Castillo. They also go head to head with Aretas well trained and extremely tough son – Armando – played commandingly by Jacob Scipio.
Overall, Bad Boys for Life wound together a great cast, they all offered a little something extra, with Lawrence being the standout between himself and Smith, but Smith doesn’t do anything wrong either.
Lawrence, who tries to enjoy a bit of retirement early on in the film is a treat, the classic awkward moments he encounters at the worst of times were all throughout the film and it was great.
The only real letdown of the film was how terribly thought out some of the plot points were. I won’t get into them because I don’t want to add any spoilers, but as I laughed and cringed (at Lawrence’s hilarious awkwardness) I still had infrequent thoughts of “WHAT THE F**K” and “That makes no sense” or “That’s just plain old dumb”. Other than that, I really enjoyed it.
Bad Boys for Life gave me a sense of nostalgia, but also a sense of hope for the future of action films, and the fact that Sony Pictures has just greenlit Bad Boys 4 – reinforces that. As I have said before, I am just board of how most action films opt for cool looking stunts over and over again rather than include meaningful relationships and up the stakes by putting those relationships at risk. In the day of technology, the common villain seems to always use some weapon of mass destruction or some evil, world-wide plan to up the stakes, but it’s just so overused – I mean how many times can you wring a wet rag before it stops dripping?
It made it more enjoyable that there were others like me in the cinema, that were enjoying the nostalgia. As old characters made appearances throughout, half of the crowd laughed, me included, and gasped at the surprises, that only people have been long time fans of the series would really laugh at or pick up on.
So, in closing, I can tell you that Bad Boys for Life can, and should be enjoyed by everyone, but especially by people that want some old school action, and to laugh their asses off their seats at the same time. But just remember to leave your brain outside, because if you think about the plot too hard, you might ruin it for yourself.
Directors: Adil and Bilall
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens
Writers: Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, Joe Carnahan (story by Peter Craig, Joe Carnahan, based on characters by George Gallo)