Bad Boys for Life: Five Reasons You'll Love It
It has been 17 years since Will Smith and Martin Lawrence last ventured onto the big screen together in the guise of loose cannon cop duo Mike Lowry and Marcus Burnett, but the pair make an unlikely return to cinemas this weekend as they resume their roles for a third and possibly final instalment in the sage that started all the way back in 1995 with Bad Boys.
Echoing the real-life timespan between the last movie and the new one, Bad Boys for Life is set in the present day and finds the detective duo in their early-to-mid fifties. For Marcus, the years have taken their toll and, much to Mike's disappointment, he has his heart set on retirement.
Mike, however, has bigger problems than his partner's impending departure. After surviving an assassination attempt, Mike learns that he is being targeted by a mysterious hitman, whom he soon learns is connected to the boss of a Miami drug cartel, as well as his own past. Mike is recruited to a new task force to tackle the cartel, but despite his best efforts is unable to persuade Marcus to join. Unfortunately for Marcus, a tragedy in their midst forces his hand and, reluctantly, he agrees to one last mission with his old partner.
Besides Smith and Lawrence, some of the other returning cast members include Joe Pantoliano, who reprises his role as Captain Conrad Howard, and Theresa Randle, who returns to play the role of Marcus' wife (also named Theresa), while new additions to the cast include Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Kate del Castillo, Happy Anderson and DJ Khaled.
Belgian duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah replace Michael Bay in the director's chair for the third instalment in the series, which makes its arrival in cinemas today (you can also pre-order it here in our online store).
We headed down to an early screening of the film and below we've rounded up five reasons why we think you'll love Bad Boys for Life...
Against all odds, it might well be the best in the franchise yet
It's difficult to know what to expect when a franchise is resurrected after such a long period of time. Bad Boys II performed well enough at the box office, as Michael Bay's films tend to do, but it was hardly a universal hit with critics and garnered some fairly scathing reviews, as Michael Bay's films tend to do.
However, with the exception of a brief onscreen cameo, Bay himself has been largely kept at a safe distance from the production this time around, and boy does Bad Boys for Life benefit from his absence.
One of the most off-putting aspects of Bad Boys II is the insanely frenetic pace of its editing, which seems designed, primarily, to induce migraines, but El Arbi and Fallah have a much, much better sense of how to pace a scene and, even during the inevitable storm of bullets and ballistics that takes place in the film's climactic finale, you can actually get a sense of everything that's happening.
Just like its protagonists, the Bad Boys franchise has done some growing up
Not only have some of Bay's less desirable tropes been dispensed with, the new instalment even takes the time to tackle the silliness of some of these head-on, not least in Marcus challenging the viability of Mike's playboy lifestyle - a smart move, since the idea of a fifty-something bachelor behaving in the same way as his younger self would have been an unedifying one.
Today's incarnations of Mike and Marcus are, broadly speaking, much more well-rounded and that, combined with the 17-year gap since the last film, helps to create space for some interesting and surprising storyline choices, as well as improving the whole tone of the movie.
Even after all these years, the chemistry is still there
One of best things about the Bad Boys movies has always been the natural comedic chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and fans will be pleased to know that, even after such a long time apart, the pair waste no time in clicking immediately back into place. Funny when they're getting along, even funnier when they're not.
There's still plenty of the high-octane action you'd expect
Between Michael Bay's absence and the film's ageing protagonists it's tempting to assume that Bad Boys for Life might be more sedate than its predecessors, but don't worry; despite making some much-needed changes the franchise, Bad Boys for Life still has all the guns, gags, explosions and fast cars you could possibly want, but it's a lot better at knowing when and how to use these to maximum effect.
There's a chance this may not be the end after all...
The third instalment's journey to the screen has been so long that some may have forgotten that the original plan for the franchise involved both a third and a fourth movie. Recently, most of the chatter surrounding the new film has revolved around an ending to the trilogy, but the ending here may not be as final as you think.
It's worth sticking around for the credits as there's more than one hint about what the future might hold for Mike and Marcus, and while that's likely going to depend on how well Bad Boys for Life does at the box office, on this evidence there's plenty of life in the franchise for another chapter – provided that it doesn't take as long to arrive as this one has.
Bad Boys for Life is in cinemas now - you can pre-order it here in our online store.