Review – Bad Boys for Life (2020)

by Kevin Muller

The last time we saw Mike and Marcus, we had just begun the Iraq War, smartphones were a what if, and history had not yet been made with the election of Obama. You can probably name many other important events, even some from your personal life, but it is wild to think that it has been seventeen years since Bad Boys II. The franchise, which started in 1995, and gave way to a sequel in 2003, has always been a beloved one with the public. How can you not appreciate the stylized violence, the hilarious one-liners, and the chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence? The question is, is this a legit sequel or a half-hearted opportunity to cash in on a popular property?

While Mike continues to live life on the edge, Marcus is slowing down as he ages.  Marcus’s recently married daughter, Megan, has just made him a grandfather. It’s a great way to start his retirement. Soon after, his tranquil life is interrupted by a heinous act of violence against someone he loves. What is thought to be a random act of brutality, is soon discovered to be part of a much bigger plan. Why are these victims being taken out? Mike, Marcus, and AMMO, a newly put together elite fighting force, must solve the case before more deaths occur.   

Despite Smith and Lawrence being back, the director of the first two, Michael Bay, outside of a quick cameo, sits this one out. Newly appointed directors, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who are relatively new to the game, take the wheel for this new installment. Unlike their predecessor, their action is more fluid and coherent. The second installment was when Michael Bay started to lose any type of control with his films. The quick cuts, rapid movements, and frantic feel that he brought to his Transformers films seem to have originated there. Arbi and Fallah’s action sequences are fast paced and easy to follow. Additionally, for a major studio film, they bring both an individuality and expertise to the property. Between the blood and the bullets, themes like time, growing older, and mortality are explored in this “bad boy.” All are well thought out and executed. While Marcus’s retirement and old age provide much of the humor, Mike’s story is more of the dramatic element of the film; especially his connection to all the murders.

A.M.M.O., Advanced Miami Metro Operations, most notable face is Vanessa Hudgens.  All the young bucks seem to be having a great time playing with Smith and Lawrence.  Hudgens, sporting an interesting hairstyle, does fine work here with portraying her bad ass character traits. While the comedic and dramatic elements feel both tacked on, it is not enough to write off the film from being a fun and worthy third part of this story. This is Smith and Lawrence’s show. It is what put both of them, especially Smith, on the map. Their performances aren’t phoned in but carefully executed to honor the franchise that has given them much career success.

A majority of the time, sequels with large gaps between one and another get lost in the nostalgia and effects, like 2016’s iIndependence Day: Resurgence, but here, all the necessary gears are work. Arbi and Fallah both understand the comfort of the familiar property, while adding their own flavor. Of course, there is a flirtation for a fourth one.  If this is any indication of the direction it may go, they better not wait close to 20 years to pull the trigger.

I’m giving Bad Boys for Life a 4 out of 5 Hairpieces!

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