Full disclaimer: I’ve never been all that high on the “Bad Boys” films (something followers of my site probably already know). I say that just so you understand, I wasn’t coming at this sequel with any kind of deep appreciation or nostalgia for the series. So maybe it’s no surprise that the third and probably not final installment “Bad Boys for Life” didn’t exactly knock my socks off.￼
Going in I was most curious about whether this new film would ￼simply beat the same deafening drum as the painfully bad “Bad Boys II” or would it actually try to inject something fresh into the series? You certainly wouldn’t expect them to just throw aside the big action and comedy shtick that is such a key part of the series. But toning it down for the sake of better storytelling would be a welcomed treat.￼￼￼￼ “Bad Boys for Life” is definitely toned down from part two and it to its credit it does attempt to add needed depth to its characters.
This time around the one noticeable absence (sort of) is Michael Bay. Replacing him is the Belgian directing duo of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah who must be into reviving old franchises (they are also set to bring back Beverly Hills Cop complete with Eddie Murphy). Some things haven’t￼changed in the near 17 years since the last film. Mike Lowery (the now top-billed Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence)￼￼ are still partners with the Miami PD. ￼They still yell at each other constantly. And they still don’t know the words to their Bad Boys theme song￼.
But not everything is the same￼. Marcus is a new grandfather. Mike has broken up with Syd (see “Bad Boys II”. Better yet, don’t). And the police department have a new ￼young state-of-the-art unit called AMMO￼￼￼ led by one of Mike’s old flame￼s Rita (Paola Núñez). Marcus is ready to retire and let the new generation take over. But Mike is still “ride or die” and doesn’t care for his partner’s desire to quit. But come on, who thought this would be a movie about retirement? When Mike is targeted by a violent someone from his past, the best friends get together “one last time“.
Things start off on a strong note showing more heart than the previous two movies combined. And overall the movie avoids the nastiness of the last film even finding a way to apologize for one of BB2’s uglier scenes.￼ But it doesn’t take long for the cracks in the central story to start showing. And despite Smith and Lawrence’s efforts, the movie loses steam as it limps towards a rather ludicrous story twist that could only come from the pages of a so-so movie script.￼
The action is pretty kill-by-the-numbers but it does bail the story out a times. And while Arbi and Fallah may not have Bay’s visual flair, they do create some high-energy (and controlled) sequences that the audience I watched with really enjoyed. Yes, you could call them silly and over-the-top, but that’s a target these movies have always aimed for and for the most part BB3’s action scenes hits their target.
“Bad Boys for Life” teases itself as the final chapter, the end of the trilogy, “one last time“. Don’t believe it, especially in today’s franchised obsessed movie culture. In fact the film’s title suddenly sounds like a studio promise more than the mantra of its two lead characters. And with sequel and spin-off rumors already running wild, this film comes across as a franchise building cash grab rather than a fitting send-off to a series that I may not like but that certainly has its fans.
VERDICT – 2.5 STARS