Jan 20, 2020
It’s Matinee Monday, our first of the year! It’s also the return of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence to the Bad Boys franchise, another attempt by Hollywood to reboot a classic and successful series of films. I’ll admit, I’ve been leery about watching franchise reboots, especially after the series of bad franchise entries last year. Don’t believe me? Check out Ryan’s review for GLASS (Episode #393), DARK PHOENIX (Episode #511), FAST AND FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW (Episode #554), RAMBO: LAST BLOOD (Episode #634), and TERMINATOR: DARK FATE (Episode #645). But does today’s film fall into the same nostalgic trap? You’ll find out in a moment!
Before the review, we’ll have a promo from our good friends at the Moviedrone podcast. Every week, Steve & Marc focus on one feature film, assign each other homework, interact with the audience, and of course, the incredible stylings of Marc’s Movie Impressions. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram @movie_drone and on Facebook @Moviedronepod. Be sure to like, retweet, share, follow, and most importantly, subscribe!
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Here we go!
<< MOVIEDRONE PROMO >>
ONE MOVIE SPAWN: “Looking forward to the BAD BOYS FOR LIFE?”
JOSEPH: “I am. One of my favorite franchises. We just need to make it on time.”
ONE MOVIE SPAWN: “Don’t worry. I’m sure it will work out.”
ONE MOVIE SPOUSE: “Ready to go!”
JOSEPH: “We’re going to be late.”
ONE MOVIE SPOUSE: “Not if you keep dragging your feet. Get in the car.”
ONE MOVIE SPAWN: “You guys have fun!”
ONE MOVIE SPOUSE: “We will. Are you ready?”
JOSEPH: “Let’s go!”
ONE MOVIE SPOUSE: “Okay. You asked for it.”
JOSEPH: “Whoa! WHOA!”
ONE MOVIE SPOUSE: “Gotta make it on time, right?”
JOSEPH: “WATCH OUT FOR THE…”
ONE MOVIE SPOUSE: “You really need to stop distracting the driver.”
JOSEPH: “Oh, [BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP]!”
ONE MOVIE SPOUSE: “Language!”
ONE MOVIE SPOUSE: “Two minutes to spare.”
JOSEPH: “Get me out of the [BEEP] outta this car!”
Today’s movie is BAD BOYS FOR LIFE(2020), the comedy action film directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, and written for the screen by Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, and Joe Carnahan, based on a story by Craig and Carnahan, and based on the character created by George Gallo. Seventeen years after the events of BAD BOYS II, Detective Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) is a grandfather looking at retiring from police work. However, Marcus’ retirement plans are put on hold after an attempt is made to kill his longtime partner, Detective Mike Lowrey (Will Smith). Now the two must come together one last time to stop this new threat.
As much as I bag on toxic franchise fans, I want to take a minute to turn on my fellow critics, particularly the critics who lambasted 1995’s BAD BOYS (42% at Rotten Tomatoes) and 2003’s BAD BOYS II (23%). I didn’t really care about critics back then, many of which could only see and judge films in a specific, erudite way. Don’t get me wrong, I love the insights many critics bring to films, even the hottest of hot takes, but I also think film criticism, thanks in large part to the Internet, has also democratized a great deal, bringing a more popular perspective on modern filmmaking.
The BAD BOYS franchise is just one example of the much larger divide that used to exist between film critics and the general audience. And nowhere is that divide larger than when it comes to Michael Bay films. BAD BOYS was Michael Bay’s breakout film, plucking him out of the obscurity of music video producer (at least at the time) and starting a string of films which would include THE ROCK, ARMAGEDDON, PEARL HARBOR, and BAD BOYS II before he would mostly disappear into the TRANSFORMERS franchise. Nearly every single one of those films scored horribly with critics, but were well-received by audiences, both at the box office and home markets. And a large part of that was Bay’s time directing those music videos, understanding how to integrate music into films. Visually entertaining, light on story, and in the case of this franchise, heavy on chemistry.
BAD BOYS FOR LIFE is definitely a strong continuation of the BAD BOYS franchise, which clearly understands what made the first two films so effective with audiences. Front and center, that’s the undeniable and extremely effective chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, a classic pairing of the ultra-cool partner with a more realistic, identifiable partner. It’s like the two never left the screen, right from the opening scene reestablishing the characters and setting the excellent blend of action and comedy. Believe it or not, One Movie Spouse has never seen the first two films, and multiple times during today’s film she was laughing uncontrollably. I’m actually kind of jealous she’s going to get to see the first two films for the first time. Better get some Skittles.
The chemistry doesn’t just extend to Smith and Lawrence, however. In addition to getting the perfect action/comedy blend, we also get a film that is self-aware, willing to poke fun at iconic scenes from the first two films, and at the characters themselves, even while upping the ante story-wise. The film has a measure of predictability, including a few scenes in the front half that don’t play well, but it also contains a few twists and turns the flips the script enough to re-engage the viewer for the back half. And yes, there’s car chases and explosions, decent personal combat scenes, and a whole lotta helicopters. Marcus knows what I’m talking about.
So, what took so long? Well, cost was a huge issue. The first BAD BOYS film was made for a paltry $19 million and grossed over $140 million at the box office. BAD BOYS II, by comparison, had a $130 million budget, grossing $270 million. A great deal of that price increase was the salary demands of both Michael Bay and Will Smith, who were raking in the cash for studios between 1995 and 2003. This third installment was talked about beginning in 2008, after Will Smith suffered a string of mediocre films, and Michael Bay was beginning to be lampooned over the TRANSFORMERS franchise. And so, we had to wait. Eleven years, I guess, and I wonder how that $90 million budget was divided up this time. I also wonder how it will interact with the recent television spin-off, “L.A.’s Finest”, which features Gabrielle Union as Marcus’ sister, Syd Burnett. All I know is that I can’t wait to see what else this revitalized franchise has in store.
BAD BOYS FOR LIFE is a revitalization and rediscovery of the epic BAD BOYS franchise, reprised for the screen by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and re-introducing the franchise to a new generation of fans. It’s not a perfect film, but it is perfectly entertaining for comedy and action fans, which is exactly what it is intended to be. Cast fans, or comedy/action fans, or folks who just love to watch stuff blow up should definitely check out this film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
One Movie Punch: 8.0/10
BAD BOYS FOR LIFE (2020) is rated R and is currently playing in theaters.