Bad Boys For Life - Review
Will Smith is no stranger to sequels, but he is rather a stranger to good sequels. Most of his sequels are forgettable rehashes. Bad Boys For Life is a refreshing change from that. 17 years after Bad Boys 2 hit theaters, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reprise their roles in a strong sequel that gives you everything you love about the franchise, and fixed what you didn't.
Michael Bay directed the first two entries of the franchise, and his absence here is the difference. The action is more streamlined, and the humor is more subdued, but both compliment the story, which is the biggest strength of the entire film.
There are comments all the time about waiting to do a sequel to "get the story right". People say that, but sometimes they still don't get it right. This is one time that they did. The story has real stakes, it deals with age and legacy in a fun yet real way. You see two people, brothers, partners, realize they are different people, but love each other despite all that.
The film may lean on the "Bad Boys" motif a bit too much, but it is forgivable. However, if you want to make a drinking game out of it, you could do so with "We ride together, we die together", and "Bad Boys For Life". The title is said a lot. It gets a little repetitive, but they definitely get their point across.
Martin Lawrence hasn't done much acting in the last decade, but he returned to the role of Marcus Burnett with ease. He was a little stiff at times, but he was able to channel that into the character's frustration. The humor aspect rested almost squarely on him, as Smith had other things to handle.
This was a deeply personal story for Smith's Mike Lowrey, and he had to do the gambit of emotions. Mike was sad, mad, happy, scared, frustrated, and determined. He wasn't the carefree Mike Lowrey that we had known before.
A sequel this long after the last one needs a reason to exist. If it plays like a greatest hits album, there is no reason for it. But Bad Boys For Life elevates the character narrative, and adds depth and nuance to the two archetypes. The stakes are higher than ever for both characters. They are old school cops in a new school world, and those clashes make for entertaining scenarios.
It doesn't pretend not to be 17 years later. They address aging, they address legacy, they address everything that a lesser version of the movie would not. The movie isn't afraid to get sentimental and emotional. Because it does that, it makes the action even better. If there were no stakes or emotion behind it, the action scenes would seem shallow and vapid, no matter how entertaining.
Bad Boys For Life has the best villain of the franchise. The other 2 were stereotypical drug kingpin type characters. This villain has other motivations, deeper, and more powerful. The depth of the villain, and the twist that involves him at the end, makes the story all the better.
All in all, Bad Boys For Life is the best sequel of the franchise. It isn't bloated, it gets down to business almost instantly, and has something important to say. For a sequel that waited 17 years to arrive, it is definitely a worthy follow up.
Bad Boys For Life is now playing in theaters everywhere.