Bad Boys For Life: One last—unexpectedly sincere—ride

Recommendation: The two aging stars buy-in completely for one last thrill. Not the most inventive action ride, but an entertaining and surprisingly sincere. 7/10.

IMDB Synopsis: The Bad Boys Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett are back together for one last ride in the highly anticipated Bad Boys for Life.


Did the world need another Bad Boys movie? No. But 17 years after Bad Boys II the release of Bad Boys For Life treat moviegoing audiences to a surprise. Mixing stylized action, self-referential commentary, and mostly effective humor, Bad Boys hits. Leaning on the chemistry of the two leads (and co-star) of Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, and Joe Pantoliano, the movie entertains and nods lovingly to the past without treading on tired territory (like other franchises have fallen prey to). Most importantly,. Bad Boys gets 100-percent buy-in from all—the series mainstays with injections of youth from a likable (if generic) cast of newcomers.

The titular detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are at a crossroads: Aging out and coming to grips with the new reality of middle age. Hot on their heels is Advanced Miami Metro Operations (AMMO), run by Lowrey’s Lieutenant-ex girlfriend Rita (Paola Núñez). Of course, AMMO’s role is to represent a younger generation, or more acutely, the inevitable changing guard.

While Mike and Marcus grapple with the reality, the movie’s big bad leaves crumbs via a trail of brutal crimes on the streets of Miami that ultimately lead to a new/old threat down in Mexico. The second half of the film is spent jumping from set piece to set piece, not relenting until the end. No matter how much plot-gymnastics the writers do, the storyline isn’t the draw to Bad Boys, and it never has been. It’s always been about the chemistry of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, as they wreak havoc on bad guys, quipping one liners the whole time.

Stylistically, Bad Boys does its part to lovingly recreate the first two films. Overly stylized, every shot has movement, and there are far too many cuts than needed, but it’s familiar. Directors Adil and Bilall do their best to pastiche the Michael Bay style, Tonally, Bad Boys hits a sincere note, lovingly nodding to the past, while optimistically looking to the future. It doesn’t gut punch like a Malick film, but the movie delivers a lot more emotion and sincerity than an action franchise is expected to.

“We ride together. We die together,” is a line that’s been trumpeted in Bad Boys For Life (and the series at large). We, along with the franchise, will ride together until we die together. The third film in the franchise does the mantra proud and gives the series the long-awaited—albeit not anticipated—sendoff it deserves.


MVP: Martin Lawrence’s comedic timing is still gold. He hasn’t done much since Bad Boys II, but he takes the MVP.

Highlights: The AMMO crew riffing off Will Smith is a predictable delight. Never hurts to have a motorcycle sidecar with a machine gun. Joe Pantoliano is a national treasure.

Directors: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Studio: Sony Pictures Releasing // Original release date: January 17, 2020

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