Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: "Bad Boys for Life" a Little Older; Still Ridiculous

Jan 16, 2020 05:32PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys for Life - © 2020 Sony.

Bad Boys for Life (Sony)

Rated R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, sexual references, and brief drug use.

Starring Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Núñez, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam, Joe Pantoliano, Theresa Randle, Jacob Scipio, Jamie Neumann, Massi Furlan, Thomas Brag, Dennis Greene, DJ Khaled.

Written by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, and Joe Carnahan.

Directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah.



Okay, so when I realized the folks at Sony decided to make a third Bad Boys movie, the first thing that popped into my head was the probability of Michael Bay returning as director (having helmed Bad Boys 1 & 2), one of my least favorite directors. I was encouraged to learn that Bay would not return for Bad Boys for Life but instead was replaced by the Belgian duo of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. Turns out, the new directors made a movie indistinguishable from anything made by Bay, delivering yet another vapid series of explosions, machismo one-liners, slow-motion hero walk ups, all shot over sepia-toned camera filters. When you combine all that “Bay-ism” with a story that is more ridiculous than you could imagine, you get Bad Boys for Life, a movie that feels just like the title suggests: a prison sentence.   

Will Smith is back as Detective Mike Lowrey, a smooth-talking womanizer who drives a brand-new Porsche and lives in a penthouse complete with a swimming pool overlooking Miami Bay (his wealth comes from a family inheritance and not his cop salary and apparently part of Bad Boys canon, which is a thing, I guess). Martin Lawrence returns as Detective Marcus Bennett, a family man (and new grandpa) who is considering retirement from the Miami PD. Meanwhile, in Mexico, Isabel (Kate del Castillo), the widow of drug lord killed by Mike years before joining Miami PD, escapes from prison, vowing revenge for her husband’s death, including Mike. She sends her son Armando (Jacob Scipio) to Miami, where he takes over control from the local prominent gang and begins killing everyone associated with late father’s death. Mike is shot and nearly dies. When he recovers, his boss Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) has assembled a team of investigators to root out the gang and find Armando. The team is led by Rita (Paola Nuñez) and includes Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens), Rafe (Charles Melton), and Dorn (Alexander Ludwig). Marcus retires but is drawn back into service after Armando makes new attempts on Mike’s life and others around him. It is soon discovered that Isabel has been hiding a secret about her son’s paternity, leading Mike to Mexico where he, Marcus, and the rest of the team must confront his past.

Bad Boys for Life will probably make a lot of money, since movies that include a lot of car chases, gunfights, explosions, obscene language, more car chases, more explosions, more gunfights, and plenty of tough-guy bravado seems to cater to a large segment of people who like those sorts of things. For those who prefer action movies with a little more plausibility and less dependence on conspicuous eye candy, Bad Boys for Life is an eye-rolling cinematic experience that is endured, rather than relished.

Turns out you don’t need Michael Bay (who makes a cameo appearance during a wedding scene in the movie) to create such twaddle. His influence (or stench) appears to have rubbed off onto another generation of filmmakers dedicated to titillating our senses rather than entertaining us. Hey, at least we get to hear that Inner Circle song “Bad Boys” (the theme song to the long-running Cops reality series on Fox) one more time as if we haven’t heard it enough already. Whatcha gonna do?    


"Bad Boys for Life" Trailer