By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Yes, I’m fully aware that nobody asked for a Michael Bay-less, 17-years-later… wait, this sequel’s almost old enough to die for its country (but not drink)?
You and me both, Martin. Glad to see you’re alive, by the way.
Bad Boys for Life reunites us with significantly crotchetier Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Bennett (Martin Lawrence). Marcus is ready to retire, but you know Mike will never go for that- especially when his violent past comes back to strike him when he least expects.
Perhaps this was influenced by my lowered expectations or a seriously bad day, but damn if Bad Boys for Life wasn’t exactly as much fun as I needed it to be. New directors Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah kick things off in ostentatious splendor with a pumpingly scored car chase through sunny Miami with low angle shots galore and dammit, I was primed.
While the comedy isn’t exactly cutting edge, it’s much more of a focus of this film than I remember it being in its predecessors, and it hits far more than it misses thanks to Lawrence and Smith slipping into these characters like well-worn gloves. El Arbi and Fallah keep the pace humming along exactly as the film demands, and somewhere in the middle of Joe Carnahan, Peter Craig, and Chris Bremner some interesting twists and funny callbacks make it into the script. Basically, if you liked the original films, or are on board with today’s Fast franchise style of action filmmaking, you’ll be entertained.
Still… El Arbi & Fallah aren’t quite Bad Boys II-era Bay when it comes to the action. That opening has the energy you want to see, even if it’s in the service of a punch line, but outside of a second-act multi-vehicle chase that could be a Bay setpiece (just not a centerpiece), the apogee of Bayhem is far from threatened by their efforts.
The feints at pathos don’t always gel well with the rest of the film. This is a comedy action franchise in which Smith and Lawrence’s chemistry and the flash is supposed to paper over all of the abjectly horrifying police abuse they terrorize Miami with, after all- so probably seriousness is a register best avoided.
Hey, Mike, that’s not how you read Miranda Rights, buddy.
Bad Boys for Life is a surprisingly tight and very fun return to the Bad Boys universe, even if it doesn’t quite reach the heights of classic Bayhem.
Bad Boys for Life (2020) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every shootout
Take a Drink: every time “bad boys for life” or “hasta el fuego” is said
Take a Drink: for every cut back to a rooftop in Mexico City
Take a Drink: every time Marcus mentions retirement
Take a Drink: every time Will Smith gets into it with someone from Ammo
Do a Shot: for the big twist, which, well, I didn’t see coming