“Bad Boys for Life” is the latest installment in the series about Miami detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and in this third installment Belgian directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah takeover the reins from Michael Bay and that’s not an improvement.
Bay directed the original 1995 “Bad Boys” and the 2003 “Bad Boys II.” Bay does make a cameo appearance during the calm in the inevitable storm of car crashes, explosions and gun fire.
The first movie set up Lowrey and Burnett as detectives on the drug task force. Lowrey drives a Porsche and lives in a luxurious apartment because his family left him money. Burnett is married to Theresa (Theresa Randle) with kids. They have 72 hours to discover who boosted heroin from the police station storage and save the witness to a related murder.
In “Bad Boys II,” Lowrey and Burnett are leading a task force looking into the sale of ecstasy in Miami. Johnny Tapia (Jordi Mollà) is the drug lord that has started a territorial war that somehow also involves the KKK. Lowrey is attracted to Burnett’s sister, Special Agent Sydney Burnett (Gabrielle Union). Bay cameoed as a car driver.
“Bad Boys for Life” is set 25 years after the first movie in the current year, 2020. The “boys” are rushing somewhere in Lowery’s car. He arrives in time to witness the birth of his grandson. His daughter Megan (Bianca Bethune) isn’t married yet to the father which slightly annoys Burnett. In his joy, he decides to retire.
Elsewhere, in a Mexico women’s prison, a bloody fight takes place and Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo) has been sprung by her son Armando Armas (Jacob Scipio). She enlists him on a bloody revenge to kill all the people involved in the downfall of her and her husband’s cartel that left her husband and Armando’s father dead. Lowrey is a special target of her fury and she wants him killed last.
But the efficient Armando gets a chance to take Lowrey down at Burnett’s retirement party and takes it, but while Lowrey takes five shots, he doesn’t die. Burnett prays and tells God that he will bring no more violence into the world if Lowrey lives. Lowery spends the next six months recovering as Armando tracks down and kills the people on his mother’s list.
At Megan’s wedding, six months later, Lowrey shows that he is finally able to walk and he wants to get back to work, but instead of being paired with the retired Burnett, he’s brought in as a consultant to Advanced Miami Metro Operations (AMMO), a high tech team headed by a former flame, Rita (Paola Nuñez). The rest of the team are dubious over Lowrey’s old-school violent and illegal tactics, but you know they’ll eventually work together to take down Armando and there’ll be a showdown between Lowrey and Aretas.
The moral of the story is: If you’re going to have sex with a bruja (witch), wear condoms. Obviously someone missed the safer sex lectures.
The timing and pacing are off in this movie and it doesn’t have the style that made the first more watchable (currently streaming on Netflix). I haven’t seen the second film (also currently on Netflix), but the jokes on the first were better. Some of the visual humor in “Bad Boys for Life” worked but it wasn’t enough to make up for the two hours and four minutes spent at the film. The humor on this film mostly falls flat. Even the 4DX doesn’t really help enhance the film.
If the Bad Boys franchise is aimed at 14-year-old boys, the young man sitting next to might be an indication that this entry is in trouble. He couldn’t set down his cellphone and although I asked him to turn it off, he put it on dark mode. His parent sitting next to him, did not help to enforce theater etiquette. He also got up in the middle of the film to buy candy and a large tub of popcorn.
I’ve been in more enthusiastic 4DX audiences than this one. “Bad Boys for Life ” opened 17 January 2020 and is currently playing in 4DX. Don’t miss the two mid-credits scenes that will, of course, give clues to where the next movie in this franchise will head.