BAD BOYS FOR LIFE

★★

WHATCHA GONNA DO WHEN THERE'S NOTHING NEW

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Jess Fenton
15th January 2020

17 years. It's been 17 years that I - and many like me - have been waiting for the third instalment of the 'Bad Boys' films. And then tonight, like I have many nights before this over the past decade (give or take), I watched Will Smith slaughter a most anticipated film and ruin yet another franchise. There was once a time when seeing Smith's name on a poster would fill me with giddy excitement. Now it's a giant red flag for any production. And what's more, 'Bad Boys For Life' ends in such a way that we're led to believe this isn't the last time we'll be seeing Mike and Marcus. A quick search of his IMDb page confirmed my suspicions, with a 'Bad Boys 4' credit already taking up residence in his filmography with a "pre-production" status next to it in glowing red letters. Oy vey.

It's now 2020. Marcus (Martin Lawrence, 'The Beach Bum', 'Big Momma's House') has just become a Pop-Pop and wants to sink into retirement. Mike (Will Smith, 'Gemini Man', 'Suicide Squad', the 'Men In Black' franchise) isn't yet ready to give up the good fight. But when an old enemy decides to take vengeance on Mike and a slew of other legal professionals, shit gets real. After a too-close call, Mike is pissed and fired up enough to hunt down the person who tried to kill him, but this time without his ride-or-die next to him. Instead, Mike is forced to team up with A.M.M.O., a small but elite team of youngins (Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig and Charles Melton) and their gadgets, headed up by ex-flame Rita (Paola Nuñez, TV's 'The Purge'). But there's a lot more to this act of vengeance than meets the eye.

'BAD BOYS FOR LIFE' RED BAND TRAILER

The list of what's wrong with 'Bad Boys For Life' is long and varied, but let's start with the biggest grievances and go from there. 1) This isn't directed by Michael Bay - I'll pause while you get out your "WTF!"s - but he does make a cameo appearance. Yay? Instead, the director's chair is filled by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. Yeah, I was unfamiliar too. The directing duo do their best to emulate Bay instead of putting their own spin on festivities, and fail. The violence is more extreme and more gory, but the set pieces are just not grand enough. The occasional low-angle dolly shot does not a Michael Bay movie make. 2) The biggest and best asset these films have are its stars. Fuck the plot. It's all about these two life-long friends riffing off each other and their dazzling chemistry. So why oh why would you separate them for half the goddamn movie!? They had almost two decades to write this story, and the idea they went with was to separate its stars. . 3) Smith is given yet another love interest in this film - Nuñez. The pair have the romantic chemistry of a vegan and a steak. 4) It's boring! 'Bad Boys' has always been about its relentless action and humour. By splitting the two leads, you lose that humour, which leaves the film to rest in the hands of the action scenes. Nope. They're too few and too far between and, as mentioned before, nothing to write home about either. I felt every single minute of the last hour of this 123-minute film once I lost all hope and realised we were going nowhere good.

The directing duo do their best to emulate Bay instead of putting their own spin on festivities, and fail.

It's not all bad. There were some good lines, and the scenes where Mike and Marcus were together obviously shine in an otherwise dull film. Fans will also go nuts when a character from a previous 'Bad Boys' film makes a return cameo appearance. Look - 'Bad Boys 2' was one of those rare films where the sequel was better than the original, so there were a lot of high hopes riding on #3, especially given the exceptionally long period between drinks. But I'm afraid all those expectations have been crushed, and what's left is a mediocre offering that will go down as the third best 'Bad Boys' film... possibly until 'Bad Boys 4' arrives.

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