Skip to main content
Bad Boys For Life

Bad Boys For Life review: "A pleasing throwback to ’90s action movies"

(Image: © Sony)

Our Verdict

Delivers as a Friday-night actioner, with some smart moves and good banter. Smith and Lawrence are on crackerjack form.

It’s been 17 years since Michael Bay’s brash, repetitive, morally repugnant Bad Boys II stole two-and-a-half hours of our lives (well, two hours and 20 minutes – the car chase was ace). For most of the intervening time a third instalment has been planned. Pre-production was, aptly, a demolition derby, but the mantra of narcs Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) has finally been borne out: "We ride together. We die together. Bad Boys for life."

The big surprise is that this is better than it has any right to be. Co-directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are now behind the wheel, and while their plentiful action sequences are standard, they’ve removed Bay’s bad-taste factor (no homophobic banter or obliterating of shanty towns here) and thrown in some neat hairpin turns to take the franchise in surprising directions.

Plot-wise, Miami’s finest, Mike and Marcus, are again taking on a drug cartel, but this time it’s personal and Marcus first needs coaxing out of retirement. There are plenty of ‘too old for this shit’ gags – Marcus needs glasses and Mike applies Midnight Cocoa Bean dye to his goatee – but more interesting is the questioning of Mike’s superficial lifestyle and violent methods. Bad Boys For Life might be a pleasing throwback to ’90s action movies, but it’s also got enough of a conscience to hold Mike, and Bay, to account.

Of course, the film ultimately wants to have its cake and blow it up, so there’s no stinting on car chases (in a Porsche, naturally) or gunfights. Only this time our boys must work with a new division called AMMO, meaning Mike’s eyes are forever rolling as he’s supplied with rubber bullets and told, "This raid is strictly non-lethal." The team, which includes Vanessa Hudgens, Charles Melton (Riverdale) and Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games) has chemistry, while a credits sting suggests the franchise has ambitions to be the new Fast & Furious. As Marcus says, "Family is all that matters."

The Verdict

3

3 out of 5

Bad Boys For Life review: "A pleasing throwback to ’90s action movies"

Delivers as a Friday-night actioner, with some smart moves and good banter. Smith and Lawrence are on crackerjack form.

More Info

Available platformsMovie