By Lindsay Wong
‘Bad Boys for Life’ is the third instalment in the ‘Bad Boys’ franchise, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reprising their roles as detective lieutenants Mike and Marcus, respectively. In this film, both detectives have aged and Marcus is preparing for retirement. However, a near-death experience in which Mike is shot by the assassin Armando causes Marcus to reflect on his dangerous job. Meanwhile, Mike takes the case personally and heavily invests himself into solving the case. The captain enlists the help of AMMO, a tech-driven team in the department led by Mike’s ex-girlfriend Rita. Audiences will recognise the rest of the team: Vanessa Hudgens (‘High School Musical’), Alexander Ludwig (‘Vikings’) and Charles Melton (‘Riverdale’).
Just like the two previous films, ‘Bad Boys for Life’ has the perfect balance of comedy, action, drama, thrill and suspense, with a fair share of car chases, shoot outs, and fight scenes. The story itself is cleverly thought out and easy to follow. Although it has been 25 years since the first film, Mike and Marcus are still as agile and quick-witted as ever. The AMMO team also contribute to the thrill of the confrontation scenes with those working under Armando. Bringing in younger stars adds to the excitement and Mike even makes subtle but smart references to them, like mentioning “high school musical”, which drew chuckles from the audience.
Smith and Lawrence’s stellar performances make the film even more entertaining, making their characters more likable. Their easy banter provided humorous relief in the midst of all the intense fight scenes, especially after Marcus discovers a shocking truth about Mike when the duo are poking fun at each other on a plane. Even when they were discussing more serious matters such as Marcus’ retirement, their on-screen chemistry as detective partners is evident.
The importance of friendship, teamwork and family were significant themes in this film. Marcus’ rational thinking complements Mike’s fiery determination and impulsiveness, and it’s clear that they make the perfect duo because of this. The AMMO team work together well and prove that teamwork can get you out of the worst situations. At the climax of the film, there are several heartwarming moments and ultimately, the bond of family saves the day.
Although ‘Bad Boys for Life’ was fun and exciting to watch, it’s a shame that the characters of Hudgens, Ludwig and Melton were underutilised. Their characters were likable and definitely have space for development. Even Armando did not appear in the film as much as a villain normally does. His character could have been developed so that audiences are more empathetic towards him.
Concentrating on Mike and Marcus’ characters and diving into Mike’s backstory in particular provided a shocking plot twist that heightened the suspense of the film. The humour and drama of ‘Bad Boys for Life’ make this conventional cop movie stand out among others, proving that Smith and Lawrence have not lost their touch as Miami’s famed detectives.