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Bad Boys for Life – Movie Review

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Bad Boys for Life – Movie Review

Rating: C+ (Above Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Sony Pictures

Bad Boys is notable for turning Michael Bay, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence into in-demand film talents throughout the ‘90s and 2000s. As a movie, it mostly just mixed a sitcom plot with Bay’s love of explosion-heavy action. The sequel was primarily a case of sensory overload with Bay leaning into the trademarks he had developed since making the first film. Under new directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Bad Boys for Life is probably the best movie in the series. Smith and Lawrence impressively slip back into their roles easily. However, the result is still a somewhat generic buddy cop movie and all of the shooting and loud action wears out its welcome after a while.

Even though the whole appeal of the Bad Boys series is seeing how Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett play off each other, they are surprisingly separated for most of the runtime. This does make sense within the context of the story as both cope with their age in a high-risk and dangerous job. When the characters do appear together, they have solid chemistry. Smith has had the more successful career of the two, but Lawrence has proven himself as a very good actor and he gets some solid dramatic moments here. The story in Bad Boys for Life isn’t the most interesting, but who goes to see these movies for the story?

The movie spends a considerable amount of time setting up a younger team that Mike and Marcus work alongside. One almost wonders if they’re here to not only show the changing times, but set them up for a potential streaming or television series spin-off. What is nice is seeing Joe Pantoliano as their frequently agitated police captain. He gets a few funny zingers in there, whenever he shows up. The villains that cause all of the trouble for the two cops are fairly one-dimensional, with a plan that seems to consist mostly of shooting people…and that’s it. Where the script goes with the villains also comes across as a tad contrived.

The action is well handled, for the most part. Arbi and Fallah do come up with creative ways of directing the fight scenes and don’t quite pummel the audience with the same hyperactive editing and ridiculousness that Michael Bay brought to the first two movies. Some of the most impressive parts actually come from how they use the camera and there are solid hand-to-hand combat scenes. A lot of the film does consist of just typical shoot-‘em-ups and by the time we get to the climax, all of the whiz-bang action does start to tire. The movie also feels a little too long going into the third act and everything the film is throwing at the audience gets to be a bit much.

For longtime fans of Bad Boys, this third entry will probably give them exactly what they hope to see. For people who aren’t quite as fond of the previous movies, there is something to appreciate with how Arbi and Fallah’s directing style differs from Michael Bay’s intense filmmaking methods. It’s mostly just nice seeing Martin Lawrence in a major motion picture again and there is a solid camaraderie between him and Will Smith. The humour and story could have been stronger and there are only so many times you can watch guns firing wildly, but as generic buddy cop movies go, it does top the first two films, at least.

Stefan Ellison

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