Watching a Bad Boys movie in the year 2020 has a certain surreal quality. In an age when action movies have become a little grittier and wider, this film attempts to adapt to the times. Not too much, mind you, as it still has an old dog quota to meet with its nostalgic fanbase. But the shift in core and focus of the buddy cop duo leads to an action picture that is equal parts mid-tier theatrics and misfiring ideals.
Another Bash With The Boys
It’s at least charming if not wholly unique to watch the evolution of the duo in the first half of the picture. Will Smith as Mike is back to his cocky old self of letting his brashness guide him in his cop career. Martin Lawrence as Marcus, however, is ready to hand in his badge when the promotion of grandfather sounds more appealing. Their bold back and forth with plenty of profanity has an undeniable energy and hilarity.
Though the two have different ideas for their future of a family, they ultimately come together to stop a new threat. There’s a witch (yes, a witch) on the loose that has a bone to pick with Mike. It involves a case from long ago and illegitimate kids. The bottom line, someone is killing cops and the Bad Boys must find and stop the assassin and the mastermind. And they’ll do so with a new team that favors more tech than grit. So, naturally, the old men will have to show them how to be Bad Boys.
A Quainter Case
Without Michael Bay in the director’s chair, this Bad Boys film can breathe a little easier. No longer choked with over the top action, many sequences have a sturdy appeal. Shootouts in warehouses and car chases through city streets are shot competently enough to never become frustrating in the frenetic. With no camera bouncing around scenes, there’s an almost quaint appeal to the picture’s assembly.
That being said, the film certainly doesn’t skimp on the stunts. The climax naturally occurs in a crumbling building with bullets flying as the building burns for that extra dash of theatrics. Scenes also linger just long enough to appreciate the absurdity of the situation. This is best showcased in one scene where a suspect falls dead on Marcus’s car. As their pursuit continues, they drive around in a compacted version of their car, the dent of a dead body present. I also have to commend the film for not making Mike and Marcus as perfect for being the better Boomers amid a younger crop of law enforcement, avoiding the more lazy jokes of such a setup.
There is one troubling deal-breaker for this being the best of the Bad Boys movies. When Marcus fears Mike may not survive an operation, he prays to God to save his friend, offering to no longer kill if this favor is made. This is not treated as a joke. Marcus is seriously committed to his words, favoring a longer future than going out in a blaze of glory. The only problem with this development is that this is a Bad Boys movie. Nonviolence can’t serve many purposes here.
Usually, when nonviolence is approached in an action romp, it’s by a side character who is meant to be proven wrong. But Marcus seems to take his promise of faith seriously. It isn’t until some goofy rationalization of murder by the second act that the bit is dropped. Soon, Marcus’s serious consideration of not killing anymore soon transforms into him getting excited about shooting someone in the face. The whole nonviolence bit is literally writ off by the character as a phase.
Conclusion: Bad Boys For Life
Bad Boys For Life certainly doesn’t shake the foundation of action pictures and settles into its mindless nature both comfortably and bitterly. Still, when the film sticks to its guns of the importance of family and the grit of action, it succeeds. Even more than the previous pictures. Think of this as the mildly happy medium of the trilogy. It gets cozy as the Bad Boys become Milder Men.
What did you think of Bad Boys For Life? Let us know in the comments below.
Bad Boys For Life
- Fun Buddy Chemisty
- Bold and Bloody Violence
- Great Theme of Family
- Troubling Nonviolence Subplot
- Few Gags That Work
- Settles For Melodrama