The Popcorn Periodical
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence deliver record-breaking MLK weekend with “Bad Boys For Life”
As the “Fresh Prince,” Will Smith, so famously sang in 1997 on his hit album Big Willie Style: “Welcome to Miami – Bienvenidos a Miami!” Yes, the warm city of Miami, Florida, is the natural setting for Sony Pictures’ third installment of the long-running “Bad Boys” franchise as it’s been home to the films’ main characters – the crime-fighting detective duo of Mike Lowery (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) – for nearly twenty-five years! To put into perspective how long it’s been since the sequel, “Bad Boys II,” was released… 2003 was seventeen years ago! A time when “Chicago” won Best Picture at the Oscars, Eminem’s Lose Yourself was No. 1 on the Billboard Charts, and Jayden Smith, Will Smith’s famous son, was only 5 years old!
A lot has changed since then. So what could the “Bad Boys” possibly be up to now?! Well, for one thing, they’re still as popular as ever! During a month where new movie releases have been extremely disappointing (“The Grudge”) or impressively mediocre (“Underwater“), Will Smith & Martin Lawrence have hit a home run with “Bad Boys For Life!” The third movie in the franchise currently sits at the very top of the domestic box office after ousting last week’s No. 1 (and #OscarsSoWhite nominee), “1917.” The latest “Bad Boys” now has the largest MLK four-day performance ever as well as boasting Sony’s largest R-rated opening ever earning a total of $68 million USD in its opening weekend! How’s that for Black excellence?!
Behind all the numbers and movie records lies a compelling story of two Miami cops: Detective Marcus Burnett is contemplating retirement and after an appropriately hilarious high-speed car ride to the hospital in the film’s opening scene, Burnett meets his first grandchild, little baby Marcus Burnett Junior. On the other hand, Detective Lowry (who’s known as the “Bulletproof Cop”), couldn’t be more fit to catch some bad guys. But before either of them have the opportunity to really talk about the future of their partnership, drama ensues, and this 2h joy ride is off, soaring to new heights with clever twists, wild and fresh action sequences and impressive character development! Plus, the villains (played by Kate del Castillo and Jacob Scipio) are red hot and out for blood! It’s compelling if not a little over the top, but that’s what we’re here for, isn’t it?
While the first two “Bad Boys” films were directed by director Michael Bay, “Bad Boys For Life” is directed by yet another duo – the fresh talents of Adil E Arbi and Bilal Fallah. These two Belgian co-directors are incredibly talented, and it’s noticeable from the beginning of the film. They’re able to highlight everything we loved about Michael Bay’s “Bad Boys” movies while refining aspects to better suit today’s audiences. For one thing, this movie is absolutely gorgeous! With panorama drone-shots of the florescent waterfront city of Miami and equally vibrant scenes featuring the beautiful architecture of Mexico City against a sunset, “Bad Boys For Life” heightens the senses! Who knew revisiting the exciting lives of Mike Lowery & Marcus Burnett would look this good! Arbi and Fallah’s vision is stunning and I look forward to seeing what they do with the next movie they’re directing, the upcoming “Beverly Hills Cop 4” starring Eddie Murphy!
When it comes to the cast of “Bad Boys For Life,” I have to say I immediately noted Will Smith’ss timelessness in the first act. This man is in some serious blockbusters, and sure, 2019 was a year of highs and lows for the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: his debut as the Genie in “Aladdin” earned him his highest-grossing movie to date but just a few months later, “Gemini Man” and “Spies In Disguise” greatly underperformed… So I found it to be a welcomed surprise that Will Smith is this good in “Bad Boys For Life.” I’d say he did an IMPECCABLE job reviving Detective Mike Lowrey and his performance reminded me, yet again, why I love Will Smith so much.
The same can be said for funnyman Martin Lawrence! He’s taken a long break from the limelight but when I say he jumps back into Marcus Burnett’s shoes as if he’s never left, he does so in spades! Lawrence gets the majority of the laughs but there are plenty of laughs, believe me! I was also very thrilled to see there weren’t any gay jokes this time around, and while I was maybe hoping to see a clear representation of the LGBTQ+ community, it was great to see how racially diverse this cast was. Along with Lowery and Burnett (and the hilarious return of Captain Howard played by Joe Pantoliano), we get some fresh new faces to add to the franchise! Together, they form the AMMO Squad, and among them is Lowery’s love interest – the head of AMMO, Rita played by the showstopping newcomer, Paula Nunez, and the squad – tech expert Dorn (Alexander Ludwig), weapon’s expert Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens) and smart-ass field agent Rafe (Charles Melton). Everyone gets their fair share of one-liners and funny moments amongst the action, and we’ll probably be seeing more of them in “Bad Boys 4” which it looks like Sony is ready and willing to make.
Overall, “Bad Boys For Life” skips like a rock across the Miami Beach water and it doesn’t miss a beat! If you like action movies, specifically 80s/90s-style buddy cop films like “Rush Hour” or “Lethal Weapon,” this film is non-stop fun, from beginning to end!
“Ride Together. Die Together.”
4 Popcorn Kernels / 5
Tip: IMAX or 4DX experiences are worth it for this one!
About the Author
Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.