Bad Boys for Life is the third installment to the Bad Boys franchise with Miami’s buddy-cop duo Detective Mike Lowry (Will Smith) and Detective Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) facing a new enemy: old age. Oh, and a new leader of a Miami drug cartel hellbent on making Mike suffer as well. While the two detectives may be getting on in years and having to rely on a younger, newer generation of police backup to assist them in getting the job done, they show these cocky upstarts they still have the magic, the humor and the asskicking abilities to make another worthwhile action movie to push the franchise forward one more time (though a 4th movie will be made at this time of writing so it’s not going to be their last ride into the sunset).
It’s 2020, and Detective Marcus Burnett has just become a grandfather. This changes his life purpose and he decides retirement is the only way he can survive to watch his grandchild grow up. His partner of 25 years, Detective Mike Lowrey, isn’t too pleased with his friend’s life changing decision and challenges him to a running race. If Marcus wins, they both retire. If Mike wins, they continue to stop the bad guys until they grow really old. The only problem is, Mike is gunned down before they can finish the race by a new adversary with a special link to Mike’s past. After nearly dying in hospital, Mike is determined on seeking revenge on those who tried to kill him. But Mike’s brush with death reinforces Marcus’s decision to retire.
Teaming up with AMMO (Advanced Miami Metro Operations), a new special task force made up of a younger generation of technologically savvy police officers, Mike goes on the hunt for those who tried to kill him – without Marcus. But as the stakes get higher and the plot thickens, the body count and carnage piles up. Despite Marcus’s decision to stay clear from the violence, a traumatic event brings him back for one more ride with his well dressed, Porsche-driving friend. But it’s not going to be as simple as just going in and killing the bad guys.
This new villain, Armando Armas (Jacob Scipio), is more dangerous than any adversary these two Detectives have faced before, and has a special history with Mike that complicates the mission to stop him. Only working as a team – the old and the new – can these Miami police officers stop this new menace from across the border.
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence show that even after 25 years, they still have the chemistry that made the first two Bad Boys movies blockbusters. Much like the story and comedy in Lethal Weapon 4 (“We’re not too old for this shit”), Bad Boys for Life takes into account our actors’ unmistakable ages, creating many funny moments and great plot points built around the fact they’ve slowed down and no longer in their prime. Even when some of the humor feels overly forced, Smith and Lawrence are still a funny pair able to feed off each other’s energy and natural charisma.
No surprise, Smith still does an admirable job of being the ladies man bachelor. He’s rich, handsome, charismatic and knows how to kick some serious butt. Smith is still in great shape and doesn’t look out of place running around and beating up bad guys. Lawrence, on the other hand, is starting to look a little silly. It’s great that a lot of the plot takes the action spotlight off him as his character is trying to retire. However, when he gets back into the thick of it with Smith, his jokes aren’t enough to make up for the fact that his ass would be grass because there is no way he would survive any of the encounters his character finds himself in.
Buddy directors Adil El Arbi (Gangsta, Black) and Bilall Fallah (Gangsta, Black) had big shoes to fill considering Michael Bay (watch for his cameo) directed the first two Bad Boys movies. While their movie is a little too long and the story a little bit silly, they’ve done a great job of making a solid action-comedy that does the franchise proud. The action is a great mix of vehicle stunts, shooting, hand-to-hand fighting and the general blowing up of any and everything that fans have come to expect.
Bad Boys for Life is an entertaining addition to a franchise starting to show signs that maybe they should stop now while it’s still strong. It ticks all the boxes for action and comedy, though some of the jokes feel forced and the silliness of putting these middle-aged detectives through these stunts defies belief. Introducing a younger team of police officers to assist the original cast is generally a sign there’s not much left in the tank, and it may be wise to retire them with some dignity left. I don’t have a problem with getting a little ridiculous, and it’s still a funny film built around the tried and true themes of loyalty, friendship and family, there comes a time when trying to outdo previous films with an older action character becomes too much (I’m looking at you, Die Hard franchise).