Fans have been waiting for a third “Bad Boys” film since 2003. With BAD BOYS FOR LIFE is now reaching cinemas and brings the well-known action duo Will Smith and Martin Lawrence together once again. But you don’t necessarily feel that it’s a film from the well-known series. We reveal why in our review.
Vanessa Hudgens, Paola Nuñez, Alexander Ludwig and Charles Melton support the “Bad Boys”.
The plot summary
The two bad boys Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) actually planned to finally retire in their old age and leave the crimes of the city of Miami to their younger colleagues. However, when Mike finds himself in the sights of a crazy sniper one day, the cards are reshuffled. The hard-core cop narrowly escapes death – and things get personal for the two best buddies. They want to work together one last time to find out who is targeting Mike and a whole series of other victims, all of whose roots can be traced back to a case that had unforeseen consequences for Mike many years ago. But the masterminds of the attack are just as well armed as Mike and Marcus and are deadly serious about their business…
Bad Boys for Life Movie Meaning
With his action comedy “Bad Boys – Hard Boys” in 1995, Michael Bay (“Transformers” series) was one of the co-founders of the testosterone-fueled buddy movie. Will Smith (“Gemini Man”) and Martin Lawrence (“Beach Bum”) left no stone unturned as Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, bringing down gangsters brandishing weapons and telling each other one (pseudo-)cool saying after another in the face. The action: hard. The guys: even tougher – who could have directed this better than Michael Bay, who was in his prime as a genre director in the mid-nineties and who was able to inject the necessary gigantomania into the whole thing. Now around 25 years have passed since then and a lot of what was possible back then is no longer possible today. That’s why in the third part, “Bad Boys for Life”, which was created with teething problems, the focus is no longer exclusively on the two bad boys and their politically incorrect coddling, but rather on a whole, mixed-gender operational team, which Mike and Marcus are at least allowed to lead. A lot of other things about the third “Bad Boys” film seem like a compromise between “just about meeting the demands of the original fans” and “breaking new ground because that’s just how you have to do it these days”. In the end, the directing duo of Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah (“Patser”) doesn’t really live up to any of the demands – and “Bad Boys for Life” clearly lacks the madness that is typical of Michael Bay “Bad Boys” film makes one in the first place.
Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are looking for a murderer.
It is primarily the two main actors, Smith and Lawrence, who continually remind their audience that they are really sitting in a “Bad Boys” film. The chemistry between the dissimilar but still close friends of the investigators remains great in “Bad Boys for Life”. It’s just a shame that the screenwriters Chris Bremner, Peter Craig (“Operation: 12 Strong”) and Joe Carnahan (“The Gray”) don’t really make use of what is probably the film’s greatest asset. After a fast-paced prologue that perfectly summarizes the period between parts two and three, along with the associated consequences for the characters, the two part ways. From then on, the script mainly follows a gag: Marcus has gotten old and has retired, Mike wants to convince his friend otherwise and finally takes the investigation into a new case into his own hands. As usual as Smith and Lawrence appear in their characters, the film adapts particularly to the sluggishness that prevails in Lawrence’s storyline. “Bad Boys for Life” simply doesn’t come out of the woodwork in the first half, can’t add anything exciting to the “We’ve grown old!” statement apart from two or three attempted mentions and even keeps the action on the back burner, which only begins in the really comes into its own in the second half.
There are certainly moments in which the directors, for whom “Bad Boys for Life” is their first major mainstream project, seem to have understood the fascination with the series itself. On the one hand, when they simply let the two main actors “do it” in front of the camera, and on the other hand, when they repeatedly deliberately flirt with the cockiness of the previous two films. For example, the supposedly complex lyrics of the title song are a recurring topic. Just like the two bad boys’ absolutely backwoods investigation methods. And the implied handover of the baton to a completely new team of investigators introduced into the series (with Vanessa Hudgens as the leader) very clearly describes the difference between the action cinema of the 1990s and that of today. The motto is that you have to earn cult status. Unfortunately, given the conditions here, you quickly forget why Mike and Marcus received a comparable one. Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah adapt their production too closely to current blockbuster viewing habits. Only the remarkable harshness (in Germany the film rightly has an FSK rating of 16 and over) sets it apart from the action monotony that otherwise appears in large numbers in international cinemas. And then unfortunately there is also the fact that the team of investigators who always come to the aid of the two bad boys at the last moment is just a collection of plot-related stereotypes. A film based solely on these would probably flop radically.
At least in terms of staging, “Bad Boys for Life” cuts a very passable figure. Although it must also be said here: unfortunately (almost) too late. For an action comedy, the film takes a very leisurely pace for a long time. Someone falls down a house here, someone gets shot there. The big shoot-outs and chases, on the other hand, only play a role in the late second half – and the final fight is by far the least spectacular. Otherwise, the few but literally huge action scenes are choreographed quite nicely. If there’s one advantage that Michael Bay didn’t direct here, it’s that even in the hectic fight sequences you can always see exactly what’s actually happening. One sequence in particular in which a helicopter plays a role looks damn good thanks to real explosions and haptic effects and finally develops a oomph on the screen in a way that explosions developed purely on the computer could never develop. Something like that is of course much more important in the genre than any finesse with regard to the plot. This is pretty outrageous, even for a high-concept premise. Especially when towards the end it even threatens to slide into mystical realms. It’s lucky that no one on screen seems to take anything more seriously than they should.
Conclusion: If the chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence weren’t so good, “Bad Boys for Life” would hardly be perceived as a film in the action series that Michael Bay once launched. Most of the time, this third part is simply a solidly staged action film with surprisingly little action, a confusingly constructed plot and an attempt to conjure up a feeling that simply cannot be conjured up.
“Bad Boys for Life” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from January 19th.