“Bad Boys for Life” is a great example of “be careful what you wish for.”  Sure, the first two films were fun and featured some of Michale Bay’s better action sequences.  But do we really need a third movie where the “boys” are now aging men?  It doesn’t help that Bay had nothing to do with this movie besides an awkward cameo.

The film picks up 17 years after the last one.  Detective Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Detective Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) haven’t matured much over the decades and are still up to their civilian endangering antics.  The obnoxious cold open has them racing through the city, narrowly avoiding collisions and manslaughter, while a slew of cops follow in hot pursuit.  The payoff for this wreckless journey is but the first of many groan-worthy 90s cliches.  The rest of the story revolves around Marcus trying to retire as Mike guilts him into remaining his partner, while a new crime boss () systematically assassinates law enforcement officials that he believes put his father in prison 20 years prior.

For a script that was written recently and credits three writers, it feels quite dated and generic.  The black-clad assassin zips around town on a motorcycle, knocking off officials with ease, never missing unless the plot requires it.  If it wasn’t for the ridiculous “custom rounds” that he uses, which are only available from a single black market dealer in Miami, our Boys wouldn’t have a single lead.  Even the action has a lazy feel to it, especially when the directors try to mimic Bay’s unique style.  The low angle, 360 sweeps now feel like the punchline to a dad joke rather than the pulse-quickening crescendo to “shit getting real.”

There are only two elements that really stand out in the movie, and both were quite unexpected.  The first is an understandable disagreement between the boys where Mike’s emotions finally boil over.  Both of them feel betrayed it becomes a true character moment in a movie that’s otherwise paper-thin.  The second is Martin Lawrence’s performance, particularly in the last half of the film.  Here, he seems to finally find his footing and all of his comedic moments are on point.  The dynamic between them changes, and Mike becomes the butt of all the best jokes, a reversal that Marcus (and Martin?) seem to revel in.

It’s a shame that after all these years the latest “Bad Boys” will end up the most forgettable.

Bad Boys for Life