The Bad Boys franchise had previously found great success with the original two films in 1995 and 2003, but return 17 years later when Will Smith has become one of the biggest stars on the planet and Martin Lawrence got a little stuck in a rut with the Big Momma’s House franchise being the only really notable films since Bad Boys II. In a way that career trajectory mirrors the position of the two characters in the film. Smith’s Mike Lowrey is still the star of the precinct, while Lawrence’s Marcus Burnett is still complaining about everything and wanting to retire.
Right there the alarm bells started flashing, this wasn’t a film that was going to do much new, and that was very much the case. The first two thirds of Bad Boys For Life are utterly forgettable. The comedy and action sequences don’t feel like they live up to the previous installments, possibly because they get pulled back a little to try and introduce a little darker story, but more likely it’s just that I’m not 12 anymore. There’s a new subplot about Mike’s lovelife, this time with both the villain and one of their key allies being his ex girlfriends, and it was just hard to have any real emotional investment in it, because that’s never what people would watch Bad Boys for.
The final third of the film is great, I think Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah really showed what they could do as action directors there, as the climactic showdown action sequence is the best of the film. Overall they also managed to make the film less offensive than the usual Michael Bay fair, which is definitely a positive. But it does feel as though Bad Boys For Life hasn’t really found its identity, just a passable blockbuster that is quickly forgotten.