For all of the loud, bombastic, blockbuster garbage that Michael Bay craps out into theaters, few are as entertaining and dumb as the Bad Boys movies (especially the second one). I'm a fan of the first two movies mainly because of the stellar chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and for the over the top, gory action scenes from the second one. After 17 years of waiting, we finally have the return of our boys and I'm glad to say it was worth the wait.
Michael Bay isn't one of my favorite directors. Especially recently with failures like 6 Underground & Transformers: The Last Knight still leaving a bad taste in my mouth. So I wasn't excited to see a modern Bay take on a franchise that he admittedly started and did well with before. However, it's my pleasure to say, besides for a cameo, he's nowhere to be seen in the production. Instead of Bay, we have Belgian filmmakers Bilall Fallah & Adil El Arbi to take over, and while it mainly relies on the typically terrific chemistry of the leads, they do a great job at pacing the film out and directing the actors to deliver a fun, funny, and violent action film that'll make the first two movies proud. They replicate the look and feel of a Bay vibe but don't go too far to make it as unlikable as most of his recent films are. Again, it relies a lot on the actors, but these two do a solid job of directing and I look forward to seeing what they do in the future.
Bad Boys for Life sees the return of our titular Bad Boys, Mike (Smith) and Marcus (Lawrence), as they ride together and die together for one last time to take down the leader of a drug cartel who has a connection to one of the Boy’s past. I was pleasantly surprised to see the amount of emotion that went into this story. I was expecting just another bloody, action-packed romp with some funny exchanges and a super evil villain, but we got a bit more than that. The attempt at having these characters look at their mortality and how they've lived their lives to this point in their career was something I wasn't expecting. While Lawrence's pacifist shift after a dramatic turn in the movie happens is played mainly for laughs, I thought Smith's whole character arc was interesting considering how silly I thought the movie would end up being. Again, it's still an action/comedy first, but the attempt was appreciated and surprisingly well done mainly because of the great performances from our two leads.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and their perfect chemistry, are the two reasons why this franchise works in my eyes. If you replace them (god forbid!) then it just wouldn't work. 17 years later and it feels like no time has passed from the last frame of the second film to the first frame of this third one. Smith and Lawrence do a terrific job with the comedic elements, and surprisingly, the dramatic ones as well which the first two didn't have many of. The supporting cast is also solid with the always great Joe Pantoliano returning as Mike and Marcus' always red-faced from anger Captain Howard stealing the show in pretty much every scene he's in. The new addition to the cast is an elite force of young hacker/police officers called Ammo. When I saw the trailer, I got flashbacks of The Expendables 3 which had the same thing and ruined that film. Surprisingly, I actually liked Ammo mainly because the actors which include Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, and Charles Melton all do a good job at portraying their lite but fun characters.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
I'm not going to lie, the soundtrack for Bad Boys for Life isn't my personal cup of tea. It works really well for the film, but I'm not going to search it out for my own personal use any time in the near future. It comprises mainly rap and R&B artists with the occasional use of the Bad Boys song from Inner Circle which is to be expected, and is used effectively here. The soundtrack is mainly used for establishing shots and montages as you would expect and does its job but isn't all that memorable in my opinion.
The action scenes are very well shot, fun, and energetically violent which is perfect for Bad Boys. My major complaint though is the use of CGI which hampers some of the best moments in the action set pieces. A lot of it looks really artificial including some of the blood and explosions, but the worst piece of FX comes at the end and involves a Helicopter which I thought looked pretty poor. Besides that, I do give them credit for not going over the top like Bay would and making what both Mike and Marcus do make sense with each of their characters.
Bad Boys for Life is that rare January movie that works, but do you know what's more surprising? It's one of those sequels that comes out years after the last film (17 years to be exact) that everyone expects to really suck but surprisingly ends up being a lot of fun and even improves on the first two in some ways. And with the box office success of this one, I don't think we'll need to wait too much longer for Bad Boys Forever… I'd assume that's the title for the fourth one.