28th Jan2020

‘Bad Boys For Life’ Review

by Alex Ginnelly

Stars: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Nuñez, Kate del Castillo, Joe Pantoliano | Written by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, Joe Carnahan | Directed by Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

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The world of Bad Boys started 25 years ago in 1995, when Will Smith was just Will Smith from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It came just after his performance in the movie Six Degrees of Separation, and it was the start of his status as an action movie star. From Bad Boys came movies like Independence Day and Men in Black, and then that was it, he was projected into movie stardom. When we look back, it was the gritty and raw first instalment of Bad Boys that set him on this path. 8 years later came the return of Will Smith’s character Mike Lowrey, in the shape of Bad Boys II, a far more operatic version of the first movie. If sequels are meant to be, bigger, louder and turned up to 11 then Bad Boys II is the ultimate sequel.

So now 17 years since the sequel we get the third instalment, Bad Boys For Life, which is not as gritty as the first film, or operatic as the second, but more emotional and even more fun. There was always a charm the first two films had, that charm is back and it’s easy to see that it was always Will Smith and Martin Lawrence that kept these movies as fun as they were. It’s their chemistry that works so well on screen that pulls you right back into the world of Bad Boys and allows you to sit back, relax and have fun with.

There was always a problem I had with the second film, I was a big fan of the first film and felt like Michael Bay was more restrained in the 90’s, he had more control. By the time the second instalment came it was a full blown Michale Bay fest. Now – in 2020 – the sexist, homophobic and racist jokes are gone. Female characters are powerful and strong, with Vanessa Hudgens and Paola Nuñez strong new additions to the cast. Martin Lawrence is also better than he’s ever been, he’s given more heart and more emotional scenes that he was wonderful in and showed a whole new side to his character. The action also isn’t messy and chopped together, instead it flows and there are some creative decisions that work really well.

Bad Boys For Life is well paced and new additions to the cast allow for some new comedy. Old cast members return and are once again just as great as they were in previous instalments. It was always the interactions between the characters that made the films so loved and so fun to watch; and that interaction is back, with Joe Pantoliano is better than ever as Captain Howard.

The film isn’t without its problems, the CGI can sometimes take you out of the moment and there were a few jokes that don’t quite land. But there is fun to be had with Bad Boys For Life and it was maybe my low expectations that made me enjoy it so much, but there is no doubt a fun film here that fans of the series will love. Now with a fourth instalment confirmed, it’s time to get excited for the future of Bad Boys, and hopefully the future of Will Smith, who hasn’t had the best run lately.

*** 3/5

Bad Boys For Life is in cinemas now.

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