The third entry in the Bad Boys series opts for a more grounded approach and succeeds in almost every way. It’s a pleasant surprise and the best film in the series to date.
I was not expecting to enjoy Bad Boys for Life as much as I did. I’m a fan of the first two movies, don’t get me wrong. I simply think they’re products of the time they were released, however. For example, the first one, Bad Boys, is pretty forgettable other than some enjoyable action sequences and the hilarious duo of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, whose chemistry is immediately noticeable. The same can be said about Bad Boys II, although it is an improvement, especially with the comedy. But, it’s a bit too long, the story is all over the place, and Michael Bay’s “bayhem” is a bit over-the-top and, in many instances, jarring and unbearable. I can honestly say Bad Boys for Life is a breath of fresh air for this series in more ways than one.
You’d think Smith and Lawrence might’ve lost their touch since it’s been almost 17 years since Bad Boys II was in theaters. That isn’t the case though, considering their chemistry has never been better. Lawrence is still his comedic, sometimes nervous self as Marcus Burnett. On the other hand, Smith as Mike Lowry is the opposite, who brings this suave, charismatic approach to his character. It’s good to know things haven’t changed for these characters after all of these years.
It isn’t just fun and games, though. There are very high stakes in this movie and some I wasn’t even expecting. The story is definitely the most interesting of the three, which doesn’t really say much since the other two are more style than substance. But, as someone who was going in with minimal expectations, I can say I was very surprised at how engaging the story was. I’ll spare you the details since it’ll go into spoiler territory, but just know it’s compelling.
By far, the biggest compliment I can give Bad Boys for Life is how grounded it is compared to the others. Yes, there’s still some great action set pieces, along with some typical Bad Boys flare in it, but none of it feels extremely over-the-top like the others. This series has aged gracefully after all of these years and honestly, I don’t think going back to the same formula the series left off on 17 years ago would’ve worked. I think part of the reason why the response to this movie has been so positive is because of the changes it made and how it has adapted to the current state of films. I have to give the directors props for that since I believe they did a phenomenal job with what they were given.
There’s little to complain or dislike about this movie, to be honest. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, but it is a refreshing, new direction for this series and it’s much better than anybody expected, or even wanted, it to be. It accomplishes what it set out to do, and that is reinvent the series with a much more emotional story, while still staying true to the essence of the character’s nature, all while making it a blast to watch. If they do make another one, which the setup indicates there will be a fourth entry, then I’m all in. Hopefully, it doesn’t go the Fast and Furious route and try to milk this series for everything it’s worth, though. That’s where I think things will start to go wrong.