Will Smith is 51 years old; costar Martin Lawrence is 55. Their characters, Mike Lowry and Marcus Burnett, are feeling every bit of their age on the Miami police department where they haven’t been boys for quite some time, and are maybe looking to be a little less bad. But ‘Good Men’ just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?
Like always, Marcus is trying to talk himself into quitting – or in this case, 25 years after the first installment – retire. And as always, Mike pshaws his excuses and presses him into further recklessness. Age hasn’t mellowed Mike nearly enough. He’s still the guy scorching through the streets in his Porsche, shooting first and asking questions never, still giving his Captain (Joe Pantoliano) heart palpitations which are increasingly risky now that they’re all AARP eligible.
Currently Miami is being terrorized by the systematic assassination of every member of law enforcement who worked a case a quarter century ago. A mother-son pair of drug lords (Kate del Castillo, Jacob Scipio) are behind the bloody vengeance but they’ve proved virtually untouchable thus far. Mike has every reason to sit this one out, which inevitably means he’s going to barge right in, invited or not, so he gets assigned to the AMMO team headed by his ex Rita (Paola Nuñez) which will now have to solve the case while babysitting the legendary detective who acts more like a toddler with an assault rifle.
Bad Boys for Life is the third in the franchise and the first that isn’t directed by Michael Bay. Don’t worry though, directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Adil & Bilall) are adept at mimicking his style, recreating several iconic shots from the previous films, making fans feel right at home. As if that wasn’t enough, they even worked Bay in with a cameo, both as a very minor character in the film, and as the director of that particular scene, which features his signature 360 degree shot.
There may be a little more gray in their beards and a little less spring in their steps, but Smith and Lawrence recapture their dynamic and deliver an exciting and fun addition to the franchise. This movie has everything you’ve come to expect from the trilogy and manages to deliver it in a way that doesn’t feel derivative. While no one will ever call it a ‘good film,’ it is every bit the film that fans deserve, and I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed by it. Ludicrous car chases, improbable explosions, random impalement, a menacing helicopter and a blacked out motorcycle – Bad Boys for Life is a high octane delivery system for all the ‘Bayhem’ the original helped make industry standard. Yes, it’s junk food, but as far as greasy take-out goes, this burger is top notch.