I’ve been struggling to park my car at work for the last week due to the Glasgow-based production of HBO Max’s Batgirl, directed by the duo of Adil and Billal, so I thought I should cast a critical eye over their previous production, the highly successful third instalment of the Bad Boys franchise. Coming out just before the pandemic started, Bad Boys For Life fairly packed them in back in 2020, and is indeed the number one film of the year at the US box office. The first Bad Boys film was hot stuff back in 1995, the second less so, and the third is a fairly mixed bag that at least delivers bang for your buck even if it doesn’t deliver much sense.
What the first Bad Boys got right was a Lethal Weapon-style mix of urban action and domestic sitcom; Mike (Will Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence) are Miami super-cops who can’t help but bring their work home with them. Marcus is a hen-pecked husband, while Mike is a ladies man with a taste for fast cars and the usual macho clichés. Bad Boys For Life sees the duo on the brink of retirement; they may not shout ‘We’re getting too old for this sh*t’ but the audience might as well say it for them. Nevertheless, the Bad Boys get their guns out while the sun’s out when a Mexican witch that Mike previously impregnated seeks revenge on Mike via their son…
…needle-scratch wut? A Mexican witch? I remember a deranged commenter on the late, lamented imdb message board pitching his idea for a film that fused The Conjuring with The Fast and Furious franchises, and that film may well have looked much like Bad Boys for Life. It’s explained as a retcon that Mike was pulled out of police academy and given a first assignment as an undercover cop, during which he got too close to a mobster’s wife. ‘If you were going to f**k a witch, would you use a condom?’ Smith asks in one of the out-takes, and that’s not the only implausibility on show. Age is an issue, so Mike and Marcus take part in a high-speed chase using a motorbike and sidecar that would better suit Wallace and Gromit, and some of the green screen work is Gemini Man awful.
Dropping the n-word without much reason and happy to take part in a scenario that depicts Mexicans as supernaturally inclined drug-lords, the popularity of the stereotype-fuelled Bad Boys for Life may be a real impediment to Will Smith winning an Oscar for King Richard; his racial sensitivity seems to only work one way. Otherwise, it’s a flashy, anonymous work that apes Michael Bay, who has a cameo here, as does DJ Khaled. For some, these blandishments will be enough, although those seeking a coherent film should look elsewhere.