Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Review: "Bad Boys For Life" is a surprisingly rowdy third entry in this series.

Bad Boys For Life Review
Color me shocked.

This series has gone three for three, in the most unlikely trilogy I can imagine.

I guess I shouldn't be that excited, because I have been enjoying the "Bad Boys" series since its beginning. I know its cool for some people to rip on Michael Bay, but the honest truth is that I've enjoyed Michael Bay's work much more often then the average critic. Hey, what can I say? I watch certain movies for specific reasons. I see no fault in just turning your brain off for awhile to enjoy some glorified trash. Out of all the director's working in film right now, it's always seemed like Michael Bay was the most fun to play action figures with when he was a little kid, and he never quite grew up. Well, he may have learned all there was to know about sex, but other than that, he never grew up. That comes loud and clear in the movies he makes. There is nobody better at making things go boom in the stupidest ways then Mr. Bay.

"Bad Boys For Life" was not directed by Michael Bay, even though he does appear as a Wedding MC in the movie. This third entry is directed by the team Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah, I am unfamiliar with this team but they sure do a good job. You'll notice the action in this movie is, shall we say, tamer. Do you remember the action in Michael Bay's first two movies? Do you know Bay's action in anything he's ever created? It gets to be a little relentless after awhile. The scene in "Bad Boys 2" during the car chase near the end where Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are just banging their Humvee through a small Cuban town and everything is just blowing up. Man. It's fun stuff, but it feels like stuff manufactured by a 10-year-old. I hope using the word tamer doesn't automatically dull your interest in this. "Bad Boys For Life" is still packed with fun and there is plenty of action. There's plenty of stupid action too. I mean, a man tackles a giant, heavy pillar by himself.

The movie begins with the typical banter between Smith's Mike Lowry and Lawrence's Marcus Burnett is pretty classic. Lowry is driving a nice car really fast, and Marcus feels like throwing up. But he can't throw up in Lowry's nice car. They are going to a hospital, turns out Marcus' daughter has just had her first child. Guess who the father is? Just guess. It's Reggie. You know the guy who took her out on a date when they were teenagers and Lowry and Marcus gave a hard time to? Yep, Reggie is back, despite everything that happened to him. Played by the exact same actor. It made me laugh out loud.

That's definitely the reoccurring theme in this movie. Getting old, getting ready to retire, even though you love your work so much. Getting to the time where you are a ready to settle down. No matter how mighty we think we are, we can only go so hard for so long. Marcus is ready to retire, in fact Chief Howard (Joe Pantoliano is back!) is pretty much pushing for it. But when Lowry says they are bad boys for life, they are bad boys for life. Lowry continues to live life in the fast lane, never planning on slowing down, never wanting something constant, someone to share things with in a meaningful fashion. It's starting to strain their friendship a bit.

Things get even more complicated when Lowry almost dies. He is shot by a mysterious assailant. The same assailant just broke his mother out of prison. Jacob Scilio plays Armando Amas, and he is the main villain of the movie. He's got a past with Lowry and he's quickly bringing the entire Miami underworld under his control. Will Lowry find this guy? Will Marcus get out of retirement to help him?

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are as perfect as ever. They are continually funny, continually thrilling and they also sell the material that aims to be more serious toned. What I was surprised by was Vanessa Hudgens shows up as a new officer and she actually does good work here. Good enough that it never derails the movie in any sort of fashion. Alexander Ludwig of "Vikings" fame also is very funny playing a new star-studded officer on the good guy team. Who knew. Everybody here does solid work, and roll with the fun of it all.

If I had one reservation, it that the movie gets a little wacky with its reveals near the end of the movie. I don't want to give anything away, but when the movie gets into exposition overdrive, I am not sure it lands every single punch. I think the ending tries a little bit too hard to be clever, and goes a little out of its way to try and be shocking. The movie is framed around a mystery, which can be fun when it is properly crafted. I just didn't find the big reveals at the end to be all that exciting and it hurt what would have been a fun picture. Michael Bay may not put lots of intellectual thought into any of his movies, but the "Bad Boys" movies in particular are the definition of stupid fun. I certainly don't mind that this movie is trying something new, I applaud the effort. I just don't know if they quite stuck the landing, it just feels like an information pile-up that's too little, too late.

Well, buckle up folks. We have an entire trilogy of this big ball of awesome and I can't believe it a real thing. I hope that we can check in on Lowry and Marcus at least once a decade, since that seems to be the trend. There is no stopping this bunch apparently. 

FINAL GRADE: B+

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