The undeniable chemistry Lawrence and Smith share throughout the series is still the best part of these films. They fight and bicker like an old married couple, yet the more emotionally heavy moments that are played straight really show that they both can competently handle things beyond the more formulaic buddy cop clichés. There’s a noticeable chunk of the film where the duo is separated and despite AMMO, the enjoyable group of “Bad Boys: The Next Generation” newcomers, doing their best to fill in I found myself sorely missing Smith and Lawrence’s repertoire.
Aside from a poorly acted cameo appearance by DJ Khaled (seriously, it’s mind-numbingly painful to watch), the film is very well acted too, although the aforementioned AMMO taskforce isn’t given enough backstory and personality, especially if they’re intended to move the franchise forward and be heavily featured in future installments. Don’t get me wrong, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, and Charles Melton do a fine job, but the script really is a disservice to their characters by not giving us enough reasons to really care for them. This is a writer problem, not an acting problem.
” …a fun and competent action comedy with most of all the things people loved about the previous two films.”
Jacob Scipio and Kate del Castillo do excellent work with their roles. Scipio is intense and has a very physically threatening demeanor to him in almost all his scenes, Castillo does wonders with a role that could be silly if given to the wrong actor. Her character really balances a fine line of mysticism and realism; it’s mostly ambiguous, but cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert has some well-designed shots and interesting lighting that teases your brain into believing that she could very well be a supernatural threat. It’s always great seeing Joe Pantoliano, he does a great job playing a fatherly figure here, and out of all the “Ugh, we got old!” bits, Pantoliano’s are the ones that work the best.
The cast here is solid, but Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are the franchise. Smith and Lawrence continue to be one hell of a team, and I feel like if they walked away the new characters are nowhere near capable of carrying these films on their own. Bad Boys for Life is a fun and competent action comedy with most of all the things people loved about the previous two films. It succeeds in that regard, but it does not successfully succeed in pushing the franchise forward and passing the torch to newer and fresher talent. I had a great time with it, and it looks like a sequel is coming sometime fairly soon, although that will be the fourth film, one wonders why they couldn’t wait for the 4th installment to name their film “Bad Boys 4 Life”, it just seems like a missed opportunity, but I digress. I enjoyed Bad Boys for Life quite a bit, while not as solid as the previous two entries I still think it’s definitely worth a watch.