Well Aged Popcorn: Our Review of ‘Bad Boys For Life’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - January 16, 2020
Well Aged Popcorn: Our Review of ‘Bad Boys For Life’

Even Bad Boys have to grow up…

While this was admittedly a sequel that no one ever REALLY asked for; Bad Boys For Life is a really solid action flick that gives a natural and realistic continuation to the story that allows our heroes to have some hurdles to overcome while still staying true to the mayhem and comedic timing of the original films.

Almost 25 years after the original; The Bad Boys Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are back together for one last ride as they adapt to life on the streets that is getting faster and faster as they get older and older.

With Michael Bay handing off directing to the team of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (with some excellent screenplay guidance from Joe Carnahan we get a natural evolution of the story for these characters so many years later as it manages to be heartfelt but still fun all at the same time.

Kicking off the film with some action was a perfect beat to start off on as Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah come off their slick indie background managing to approximate quite a few of the trademark Michael Bay beats.  It felt like a natural progression for the characters from minute one as we still get the highly slicked up setting of Miami Beach, but years later.  The action sequences are well staged and it’s all very well paced with balance between the action and the characters.  It all moves with a real effortless ease that it actually kind of directs itself; it’s hardly high art but it’s incredibly well executed popcorn cinema and exactly the kind of movie that is needed in the doldrums of January releases.

It’s certainly an entertaining and good looking film but make no mistake that the real strength of this film comes from the script.  It’s not just Mike and Marcus running roughshod, catching criminals and cracking jokes, it’s them evolving as people and acknowledging that they’re getting older and aren’t as young or “bulletproof” as they used to be.  Chris Bremner, Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan put together a script that’s smart with some fun throwbacks while letting our lead characters evolve in a very natural way.  This was the first Bad Boys film that was actually more about the characters then it was for action, the comedy or the pure spectacle of it all and it’s the better for it as Carnahan’s very humanistic touch come through inside all of the carnage and the action.

Will Smith brings his trademark swagger back to the screen with Mike Lowrey that reminds us why we fell in love with him as a movie star in the first place.  He commands the screen at every turn as per the usual but allows for some kinks in the army to make Mike a vulnerable and real person at a crossroads in his life.  He’s elevated the character from swagger filled superhero to a vulnerable human being who’s willing to go above and beyond for his loved ones.

Martin Lawrence however is the real star of this one as he not only carries the bulk of the comedic beats in the film but the emotional ones as well.  He’s the more grounded member of this iconic duo and while he tries to step away he knows that he has to step up in order to save his spiritual brother and fellow ‘Bad Boy’ Mike.  The balance of the ensemble which includes returning favorites like Theresa Randle and Joe Pantoliano as well as new key figures in the guys life like Paola Nunez, Alexander Ludwig, Vanessa Hudgens & Charles Melton allow us to feel like these Bad Boys are melding into a genuine family, and yes there is a mid credits sequence that sets up an upcoming 4th film, I can’t deny that while they could have ended it here, they’ve earned a shot at one more in our book.

At the end of the day; think of Bad Boys For Life as the grown up version of the film that we fell in love with back in 1995.  Everyone is a little slower, a little more adult and a little more about each other rather than the visual mayhem that gets unleashed on screen.  It’s a beautiful balance of ‘Bay-hem’ and brotherhood which makes for very entertaining two hours at the movie theatre.

  • Release Date: 1/17/2020
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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