Review: Bad Boys For Life

Written by AJ Charles

Twenty-five years after the first instalment of Bad Boys, and seventeen years after their last appearance in Bad Boys II, Miami buddy-cops Mike Lowery (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) return to the silver screen in Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi’s Bad Boys for Life. The film sees Mike and Marcus team up one last time to take down a new player in Miami’s criminal underworld, Armando Armas (Jacob Scipio).

The first instalment saw the duo trade places and assume each other’s identities. The second delves deeper into Marcus’s family life, all while the boys take on Miami’s criminal underworld as a part of a narcotics taskforce. This film takes place twenty-five years after the events of the first film, and the characters are portrayed as such. In the case of Marcus, twenty-five plus years of police service has begun to take its toll, while Mike tries his best to remain the same bulletproof twenty-something of the first film.

From the opening moments of the film, the audience is taken back to 1995 as Mike and Marcus speed along the streets of Miami in a car chase. For car fans, this begins the journey of nostalgia with the 2020 Porsche 911 taking the place of its predecessor from the first film. Mike’s original Porsche, seen in the first film, was a 1994 Porsche 964 that was traded out in the second film for a Ferrari 550 Maranello. The return of Porsche for the duo is a nice throwback to the series origins.

The nostalgia continues as Mike and Marcus bounce off each other as flawlessly as in the first two films. At times the film seems to rely on fan-service, but it is done in such a way that it flows naturally, with jokes and references to the earlier films worked into conversation as a part of the iconic banter the Bad Boys fans know and love.

A change that Bad Boys fans will notice is the difference in comedy between this film and the earlier instalments. The homophobic and racist humour of the 1990s and early 2000s, which would be considered offensive now, has been stripped away while retaining the innuendos and situational comedy of the earlier films. Another big change for fans is a greater emotional depth seen in the duo as they come closer to their mortality as the years go by. While some of this had been seen in the earlier films, a new depth was reached in Bad Boys for Life, and it didn’t go unnoticed.

The film is paced to allow the audience time to properly understand the gravity of the situations the duo is put into before moving to the next action sequence, a quality which is becoming increasingly rare in action films. Despite Michael Bay stepping back from directing the third instalment, it is a testament to the abilities of Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi that Bad Boys for Life feels very much a part of the trilogy.

A third Bad Boys instalment has been long-awaited, and Bad Boys for Life pays off. Acknowledging the time that has passed, the film now paves the way for the story to continue. Whether that be with the original duo or with a new line-up, there will be Bad Boys for Life.

A.J Charles’ work appears in the Euphoria, Colour, and Order editions of WORDLY Magazine.

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