Whatchyu’ gon’ do?
After watching Martin Lawrence in the trailer, I was aghast. I was sure that this movie was going to get bogged down with a bunch of inappropriate fat jokes. Mind you, I haven’t seen him at all since the 2003 Bad Boys 2. Will Smith, meanwhile, has remained in my public eye since forever. So when I saw Lawrence’s rotund face, I groaned.
There were no fat jokes here. Well, there were some. But you can’t be that mad at that.
Is the humour bad?
Bad Boys For Life doesn’t lower itself into the cheap, crass humour territory to spoil its goodwill. The original Bad Boys that came out in 1995 and the sequel that came out in 2003 took place in different decades. They were both products of their time. Bad Boys For Life doesn’t feel like a 2020s movie – far from it. It is a weird amalgamation of clever humour and some really, really derivative writing.
How the hell did you come to that decision?
The opening chase sequence makes it clear. The heightened frame rate and the frantic cinematography is making a comeback. The slow-motion circle-shot of the Boys getting out of their cars is making a comeback. I was swept up in nostalgia even though I haven’t rewatched the first two movies in a very long time. Some films just have that effect on you.
So it’s outstanding, right?
That doesn’t mean Bad Boys For Life is an exceptional motion picture. The first two aren’t exactly cream-of-the-crop buddy-cop movies either. They are just part of the cultural zeitgeist now. They have a cult following, and they fulfil the niche requirement of every impressionable boy who dreamed of becoming a radical police officer that busts drug kingpins and ratty arms-dealers while owning and driving a Porsche. How does a police officer in Miami PD own one, and how does he have a house with that view – I am sure I do not know. It might have been explained in the previous chapters, but as I said, I don’t even remember them now.
What I do remember is the iconic Bad Boys song and its lyrics that everyone gets wrong. I also remember the “Intimidation of Reggie” for some odd reason. Every time I rewatch that clip, I burst out laughing. It makes me want to watch the whole thing, start to end.
I loved Bad Boys For Life
Nobody can deny Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s chemistry. And I don’t just mean the hilarious kind, where their personality is to always be the polar opposite of each other (a standard buddy-cop requirement). Bad Boys For Life has these two leads tackle some serious emotional beats which, surprisingly, land hard. It’s not just because they’re damn good actors (they can be when they want to be), but because they’re that well-written characters. They’re not my favourite buddy-cop duo (I’m awaiting Rush Hour 4), but I wouldn’t put them stone-cold dead last.
Will Smith brings in his usual charm, but it was Martin Lawrence who stunned me with his inappropriate-humour-at-odd-times comedy. Usually, people tend to groan audibly when a character on-screen is being genuinely melancholy and the person reacting drops an out-of-nowhere wisecrack (I call it the Marvel manoeuvre). Martin Lawrence has an annoying knack of being genuinely funny at these moments. Watch out for his heartfelt pieces – you forget he’s an actor.
So how’s everyone else?
The rest of the cast doesn’t disappoint. Joe Pantoliano reprises his role as Captain Conrad Howard and leaves a lasting performance, fulfiling the exasperated captain role. The writing does justice to other minor players too. The squad of AMMO (Advanced Miami Metro Operations – yes, it is that corny) is a group of four unique individuals, who get their chance of showing the audience about their uniqueness. No, they aren’t just pretty-faced, muscular-bodied athletes that do cool shit. During the span of slightly-less-than-two-hours (not counting post-credits), I cared about… maybe three-fourths of them. The only part of the cast that felt out of place included a total of 3 people. And this is the part where I tell you why I disliked Bad Boys For Life.
Picture a generic buddy-cop movie plotline. Now, put it through a group of writers, each with their style and flair. They all give their take on the scenes and the head honcho picks up those which he/she feels is best.
Or it might just have been one writer with good and bad days – the point is, this creates a problem. Two of them –
- The basic plot is still as generic as hell.
- The writing keeps on giving hits and misses all over the place.
The script might beat a plagiarism checker, but it will never be genuine, an original or a cult classic, which I guess the preceding two… are? I don’t know, I need to watch them both.
Anything else you want to complain about?
The screenplay that gives us grounded supportive characters also lets us down in the form of Rita (played by Paola Nunez), Mike Lowrey’s potential love interest. The spark just isn’t there, no matter how many times Martin Lawrence calls me a dumbass. The villainous mother-son pair don’t exactly make you clutch your pearls fearfully. Flimsy motivations, over-the-top-in-a-bad-way performances from the two annoy rather than make you quake in terror. Bad news from Bad Boys – this thread will be pulled going forward for some reason.
Wrap it up already
Bad Boys For Life is a surprisingly well-intentioned, but mediocre buddy-cop instalment where you know you’re not expecting groundbreaking cinema but the result leaves you happy. And confused, whether you like it or not. At least it rewards you with a good time with your boys.