They've rejoined hands for an adventure after 17 years, but the way they have performed in Bad Boys for Life, it seems Martin Lawrence and Will Smith never went anywhere. The original Bad Boys of Hollywood didn’t have their regular director (Michael Bay) but were aided by a tight script, brilliant direction and action sequences that are at par, if not better than the first two Bad Boys flicks. And yes, Jerry Bruckheimer is there as the producer and that’s why not one frame looked extra, not one action sequence out of place and not one dialogue out of character.
When an unknown assassin guns down Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) unsuccessfully, Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) decides to quit, leaving his partner in the dry. However, when the same assassin shoots down multiple important targets, the Bad Boys join hands for one last time. With the help of AMMO (Advanced Miami Metro Operations), and reluctant backing from their captain (Joe Pantoliano), Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett spring into action and get the job done, only to find out a twist in the tale that none of them saw coming. Add Marcus’ decision to abstain from violence and the return of Mike’s ex-girlfriend Rita (Paola Núñez) and you have a perfect action flick where the good guys must become bad boys to get the job done.
Directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Bad Boys For Life pays tribute to the 90s classic action flick that was updated in 2003, only to go missing in action since. What made the original flick a must-watch as well as the sequel was the entertaining chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence; the two are back on top of their game as two Miami narcotics detectives who don’t listen to their superiors, love to wreak havoc with weapons and have numerous enemies in a world where criminals operate above the law. What makes them a threat to the bad guys is that they follow their own rules even if it means bowing down in front of their wives (in Marcus’s case), destroying their spouses’ car (also in Marcus’s case) or crossing border to nab the bad guys, for good. It was heartening to see Martin Lawrence back at his best because he makes you want to laugh despite his best efforts to look serious. Will Smith’s resurgence since Aladdin is going well as he first showed in Gemini Man that he still has what it takes to be an action star, and strengthens his claim at the top with Bad Boys For Life.
Although the film is laced with action sequences, impressive stunts, and explosions that the original flick normalized 25 years ago, there were some scenes that could have been trimmed. The film loses the plot for a moment in the second half when the Bad Boys take a trip to Mexico to put an end to a problem that wasn’t there in the first two flicks. The twist in the tale seemed more Bollywood than Hollywood but it was tackled well by the time the film ended. The film did have its share of bad humor or jokes went wrong but that was expected; in fact, this installment was more in sync with the current scenario than the Michael Bay flicks where he used female characters as props and knitted the story around the macho men. Martin Lawrence maybe just three years older to Will Smith but he does look tired in some of the sequences. At times he looks even more aged than Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) who was fitter in all Lethal Weapon flicks than Marcus Burnett in the third Bad Boys.
The Verdict 3.5/5
Bad Boys For Life may have come a little late for the fans of the franchise but it’s never too late when you have Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey to bank on. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that it kick-started the year 2020 in the best possible manner both for cinemas around the world. In the cinema culture dominated by superheroes and fast cars, Bad Boys For Life takes you down the memory lane when catching criminals was in fashion, when wearing designer clothes was the norm for cops and when nothing was bigger than friendship. Yes, the two action stars of the series might have become old and haggard (mostly in Marcus’s case, again) but their chemistry is still worth your while. Martin Lawrence’s one-liners regarding non-violence, settling down and enjoying life after retirement are pure gold. For Will Smith, it’s a usual day in the office as he has been winning battles against aliens (Men In Black), supervillains (Suicide Squad, Aladdin) and criminals (Bad Boys, Gemini Man) for as long as he has been a Bad Boy. And once you become a bad boy, you remain so, for life!