PG Score: 7.75/10
Bad Boys for Life is a fun film that surpasses both of its predecessors. The third installment delivers on the comedic front and elevates the quality of the action sequences for the franchise in a major way. The 17-year hiatus is justified by a sequel that raises the bar in every facet. A long time has passed since the last outing of Miami police detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence). They have both aged significantly and the fallout of their previous escapades has taken its toll. Changes within the police department and their own homes loom large as they saddle up for one last ride. The chemistry between Lawrence and Smith is utterly undeniable. The two are pure dynamite together. Not only have they not lost a step during the 17-year layoff, but they’re arguably better than ever. The pair work wonderfully together as they reel off some truly sidesplitting dialogue. The banter is hilarious and most of that credit goes to Lawrence, who is at his best in BBfL.
Some of his lines seem improvised and this is a blessing because this man is naturally funny. He and Smith are firing on all cylinders in every scene as they bounce fast-paced one-liners back and forth. It’s a pleasure to once again witness Smith tee up Lawrence with a juicy meatball right down the middle for him to knock out of the park with a perfectly-delivered zinger. Their characters also share a few meaningful heart-to-hearts that reveal a deeper understanding of both of them and the indestructible bond they possess. It’s thoroughly satisfying seeing these guys reprise their roles as the iconic combination of Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett and this is their best joint onscreen work. The action spectacles are another area where the film shows improvement over the originals. There are some remarkable vehicular chase sequences that feature all of the property damage, explosions, and carnage that you’d expect from the two protagonists. While these scenes are the highlight in the mayhem category, there are also some enjoyable shootouts. The gruesome gunplay doesn’t pull any punches as blood spray and exit wounds are on full display in extensive sequences of death-dealing. The slow-motion technique is used well during these firefights. It is never gratuitous and adds another layer of style to an already flashy flick. The high-octane set pieces are packed with the movie's trademark humor, which is beautifully woven into the script. The soundtrack accompanies the action nicely and also holds up during the few instances of downtime. Most of various locales are oozing with glamour. Between Lowrey’s showy attire to clubs filled with Miami nightlife, many of the sets look really good. Unfortunately, the scenes taking place in areas outside of the city aren’t as impressive. That’s not a result of a less affluent environment, but rather just a lack of attention to detail. It just seems like some of the places where the larger battles occur are rather plain and frankly don’t show enough of the surrounding area. It would’ve been nice to see more shots of the film’s foreign locations. The only other glaring negatives were a noticeable lack of character development for both the supporting characters and the main villain, and some pacing issues. Bad Boys for Life brings on a host of new characters in the newly-formed elite police team AMMO to assist Marcus and Mike on their mission. Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens), Dorn (Alexander Ludwig), Rita (Paola Nuñez), and Rafe (Charles Melton) comprise the squad and play an important part in aiding the two leads.
All of the actors do a good job in their respective roles, but unfortunately, are underutilized. Granted, a big reason for this is likely due to the spotlight that Lawrence and Smith demand, and deservedly so. Without saying too much, the main adversary is an interesting one and the backstory involved is that much more intriguing. While they delve into it a bit, it’s something that definitely could’ve been explored deeper. With the winning of combination of humor and action, most of the movie is lag-free. However, there are a few spots where the foot comes off the gas just a bit. Thankfully, these spots are few and far between so there isn’t too much drag in an otherwise well-paced film. Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Black and Broeders) have joined forces again to create a worthwhile continuation of the action-packed buddy cop saga. What they’ve done here is really impressive. Not only do they effectively build upon the groundwork that Michael Bay established in the first two films, but they also manage to funnel in enough fresh elements to make this feel like an upgrade rather than a retread.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still more than a few of the running gags that fans have come to know and love. This is a good thing, as they are well-timed and used appropriately. It would’ve been easy to use and abuse recycled material, but Arbi and Fallah show restraint and discipline to their craft and should be commended for it. The two have concocted a successful solution that is guaranteed to please returning fans of the franchise and newcomers alike.
Bad Boys for Life is worth the wait and gives plenty of reason to join the dynamic detective duo one more time.