Thursday, 30 April 2020

Bad Boys For Life (2020)

I've been a fan of this franchise since childhood, and I've always wanted a third one. This film had no right to be as good as it was. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence over the years were loosely attached. Directors and writers came and went. At the time of its release, it had been 17 years after the release of the second film. And yet, the third time is the charm. The first film had the best jokes. The second film had the best action. This third film had great humor and action, but it had the best story.

Mike Lowrey(Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett(Martin Larence) investigate a string of murders tied to Lowrey's troubled past, while the two are at a crossroads of their partnership. Marcus has just become a grandfather and desires retirement, while Mike isn't interested in moving on from where he is, claiming to want to "hunt down criminals till he's 100".

As the film goes on, you realize that there is a different vibe compared to the others. It's much more mature. The brutal violence is gritty and leaves an impact. It isn't as simple as when our central leads were younger to simply shoot and kill the villains. As the old guys on the block, the new team of hotshot cops, AMMO have a new way of doing things that leave them out of their element.

Michael Bay might not have directed( He has a cameo though), but his influence is still there. The sweeping shots, pretty girls, and certain camera movements that no one else does. Still, newcomers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are focus to put their gritty stamp to the franchise, rather than make a Michael Bay fan film.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are magic on the big screen together. Their banter is full of energy and aside from the constant quips, there is a real brotherhood there. Martin definitely had the biggest laughs. He has been missed from the big screen. The duo is a big part of why these films resonate with the audience. I appreciated keeping the focus on them rather than have them in the background, and focused on passing the baton to AMMO. With that said, they are great additions to the cast. I honestly hope that they return for the fourth one, as the franchise has never been great in retaining supporting characters. Joe Pantoliano is an exception, returning to play the beloved foul mouthed Captain Howard.

The action sequences are decent, but they pale in comparison to Michael Bay's signature 'Bayhem'. Though, to be fair, with its absence, narrative cohesion is present. Nevertheless, I appreciate the camera movement, the clearness of it, and the use of practical stuntwork, though despite the stakes, it feels small.

Composer Lorne Balfe is on a hot streak. I've been a fan ever since his work on Mission Impossible: Fallout. Bad Boys II had a great soundtrack of songs, but its original score fell short, so Balfe's outstanding work on this film particularly stands out. It feels so cinematic and strengthens the emotional scenes. He even brought back the original Bad Boys theme by Mark Mancina.

Bad Boys For Life isn't groundbreaking, but it is a long-awaited fun action-packed adventure, aided with unexpected emotional heft.


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