Note: This is a spoiler-free Bad Boys for Life movie review
The way to get the maximum value out of the latest Will Smith/Martin Lawrence project is two-fold. First, approach it as a comedy more than an action movie. Second, turn off your brain and just let the endorphins fly.
Bad Boys for Life brings a summer flair to the winter months; with outrageous action, throwback chemistry, and a criminally good time at the movies.
A Rich Reboot
Both Smith and Lawrence have strong roots in comedy. There is little doubt they’re at their best within that genre, and it’s no different in Bad Boys for Life.
Smith has his moments in the movie, but Martin Lawrence is the one who stands out and is the one to see. His character, Marcus Burnett, has evolved quite a bit since we last saw these partners, mostly for the older. Marcus is a glasses-wearing, gun-holstering grandfather who is constantly aware of how much things have changed since 1995. That makes for a lot of high-quality one-liners and comedic relief almost every time he’s on screen.
An aging and cautious Marcus makes for a perfect complement to Bulletproof Mike Lowrey, which is pretty much what the entire Bad Boys franchise is based on. It’s great to see these two stars haven’t lost their chemistry, and it’s still electric 25 years later.
Lawrence is good on his own, but really he’s at his best when he’s making fun of Smith.
It’s been 17 years since the last Bad Boys movie, but Bad Boys for Life opens up and throws you right in like we’ve never left. It’s no easy task to create that feeling on screen and not lose a beat. Smith and Lawrence make you think they’ve been hanging out every minute since the last movie ended.
How Much Explosion Is Too Much Explosion?
If Lawrence is primarily in charge of the comedy bits, Will Smith runs all the scenes centered around the movie’s plot and action. Unfortunately for Smith, these are the exact areas where the movie lacks.
It’s not that his performance is bad in any way. Smith does everything he can with what he has to work with. The story itself just lacks any believability. Couple that with the fact many of the action scenes are over the top to the level where you’re commenting on how ridiculous they are rather than enjoying them, and you’ve got writing that leaves something to be desired.
These scenes are obviously necessary. Otherwise, Bad Boys for Life would just be Old Cops Making Jokes. And admittedly some of the chase scenes and shootouts are enjoyable. But then they get taken to a level 12 (out of 10 and we’re skipping 11) and you’re ready for the scene to be over. Especially when Mike Lowrey is walking around like everything is fine in the next scene.
Is the action outrageous? Yes. Is the plot so full of holes it’s not even worth mentioning in a review? You bet. The easy retort to any of these points is, “Yeah but it’s a Bad Boys movie. Who the hell cares?”
That point is completely valid and a winning one. Turn off the critic before the previews are over and enjoy what you can on the surface level.
Should I See Bad Boys for Life?
This one all depends on the mood. If you’re looking for a break from Oscar season with a big action-comedy reboot, Bad Boys for Life gives you exactly what you expect. If you’re looking for some semblance of coherence or quality story, not so much.
This is a classic case of a movie knowing what it is and being good at it. Overall, it makes for a fun night out at the movies.
(Featured Image courtesy of EPK)