Bad Bboys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? After a 17 year hiatus from the franchise, Martin Lawrence and Will Smith return for the third installment with Bad Boys For Life. Taking over director duties this time around are Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi (Black, The Treatment). The film catches us up with our heroes and introduces an enemy that they created long ago without realizing it.
The story begins with Miami narcotics detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Barnett up to their old shenanigans, running red lights and driving over private beaches so Marcus won’t miss the birth of his first grandchild. Life is good and our two heroes are content but slowly headed in opposite directions. Marcus wants to retire and settle down into his new role as grandpa. Mike on the other hand still wants to chase bad guys, which you can tell gives him a sense of purpose and an adrenaline rush. But an old nemesis named Isabel (Kate del Castillo) and her son Armando (Jacob Scipio) return with a vendetta against Mike Lowrey involving the fall of the Aretas drug cartel with a twist many won’t see coming. After dodging a near-death experience, Mike teams with Marcus one last time to take down the pair.
What I loved most about the writing, besides the hilarious jokes and action sequences, was the nostalgic feeling of watching a good buddy cop film, which we don’t see much of anymore. Unlike countless other franchises that make a ridiculous amount of sequels for no reason, Bad Boys For Life serves an actual purpose. When you have two dynamic characters like Mike and Marcus that you’ve grown up with and care for, it’s only fitting that they have an end to their journey. Marcus has talked about retiring ever since the second movie but here we actually pick up to see what that transitions into. As for Mike Lowrey, this movie also gives you some extended backstory into his past, which we never got in the first two films, so that was a nice touch.
The whole thing reminded me of the great ’80s and ’90s cop thrillers like 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon. There were some other great moments as well and I won’t spoil them, but we even get a cameo from Michael Bay using his famous 360 camera angle on himself during a cool beach scene. Some familiar faces return, like actor Joe Pantoliano, who knocks his role as Captain Howard out the park for the third endeavor. I was skeptical at first but the new addition to the team with Vanessa Hudgens, Paolo Nunez, Charles Melton, and Alexander Ludwig was actually pretty decent. They make up the special tactics team known as AMMO and give some pretty solid performances.
Martin Lawrence and Will Smith
It’s no question that when it comes to buddy cop films, the chemistry between the two co-stars has to be there. In For Life, it feels like Martin and Will never stopped playing their characters after Michael Bay yelled “cut” in the last one. They flawlessly bring the same energy, laughs, and deep character connection that the audience comes to expect. The only difference here is a slightly edgier version of Mike Lowrey. Martin delivers his usual comedic timing as only he can with some wisecracks and signature moments that’ll have you falling out of your chair in laughter.
Bad Boys For Life is an enjoyable night out to the cinema. It embodies the same warm spirit that made the first two so great. There are two after credit scenes at the end, one that will cause most to question the future of the films. It was awesome to see that after so long Martin and Will could still play these iconic characters so well. I highly recommend seeing this one with friends or for a cool date night.