REVIEW: “Bad Boys for Life” (2020)

BBlifePOSTERFull 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’tchanged 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 flames 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“.

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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

2-5-stars

 

21 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Bad Boys for Life” (2020)

    • No, not really. Do remember the obnoxious scene in BB2 where Mike and Marcus nastily intimidated the boyfriend that came to take out Marcus’ daughter? They have a scene that kinda addresses that.

      • Man, I need to go back and watch Bad Boys II — I vaguely recall that scene but don’t remember it being obnoxious. I trust that it is — it’s a Michael Bay movie! All I really remember is how relentless the action is and how aimless the whole thing was. It really wore me down.

      • I can understand that. It’s the way I felt about the “humor” in BB2. Put those two together and its mind-numbing. I hope to never watch that movie again. This one is definitely better but man, good storytelling is not in these movies’ vocabulary.

    • TV would be the way to go. Tolerable is about it. It’s head-and-shoulders better than BB2, but not great. The high 70s on Rotten Tomatoes kinda blows my mind.

      • in my review, I wrote that I was “engaged for the first 45 minutes”. even checked my watch. but afterwards, the rest of the story felt like a been there, done that kind of thing. anyway. I too get surprised at the praise. this might just be a good example of the fast food kind of movie. audiences go in, enjoy, and no further thoughts.

        On the plus side Smith and Lawrence were very entertaining. the acting was quite good. I even teared up a little during the Hospital scene.

      • Yes! It opened pretty strong and left the impression it was going for something different. But as you said, soon it was back treading the exact same water.

  1. Haven’t seen it yet. I did love the first Bad Boys movie, I can’t remember if I saw the second one. Maybe I forgot about it.
    I’m glad it’s getting the love though.. revamping movies hasn’t been going great for Hollywood so it’s good to see at least one succeed. Yet this means we’re getting MORE of them soon. 😀

    • Definitely getting more soon. As mentioned this same directing duo has Beverly Hills Cop already in the works. The possibilities for more are endless!

  2. Pingback: REVIEW: “Bad Boys for Life” (2020) — Keith & the Movies | Los Angeles feedback film festival

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