It’s been 25 years since Will Smith and Martin Lawrence helped reinvent the buddy cop genre in the first “Bad Boys” film. All these years later, the duo have returned for the third installment in the series in “Bad Boys for Life.”
Set once again in Miami, Mike Lowery (Will Smith) hasn’t changed a bit. He may be dyeing his goatee now, but his quick-trigger and thrill for car chases and attack raids are more prevalent than ever.
As for his partner, Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), he’s still the cautious and sensitive one of the pair, constantly yelling at Mike for his bulletproof and daredevil antics. In fact, with the birth of his new grandson, Marcus is ready to hang up his gun and badge for good.
You can imagine how well that sits with Mike, who wants to stay on the Miami PD forever. Mike is disgusted by his partner’s idea of retirement, and sees it as a betrayal to their friendship
Of course, an enemy is always looming. After an event transpires that almost takes Mike’s life, Marcus agrees to one last case. The target is Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo), the wife of a Mexican drug lord Mike locked up years ago. Seeking revenge, Isabel and her now-adult son, Armando (Jacob Scipio), gun down everyone who did their beloved husband and father wrong, and they’re saving Mike for last.
A case this dangerous requires some backup, much to the dismay of Mike. Capt. Conrad Howard (a phenomenal Joe Pantoliano) brings in a crew of millennials, including Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens), Dorn (Alexander Ludwig), Rafe (Charles Melton), and Mike’s ex-girlfriend, Rita (Paola Nunez).
Dealing with a case impacted so eerily by his past, Mike must come face-to-face with his mortality. As he’s older and begins to realize he’s no longer bulletproof, he has the pressure of not only stopping the most menacing criminals he’s ever encountered, but also making sure he protects the people he cares about the most, including his best friend and partner, Marcus.
Smith and Lawrence haven’t worked together since 2003 in “Bad Boys II,” but if you didn’t know any better, you’d think it’d been 17 days instead of 17 years. Their chemistry is impeccable, and few moments go by when the duo doesn't have the entire theater shaking their heads in shameless laughter and joy.
It’s an action film, so of course there are sequences that are beyond ridiculous and absurd, but “Bad Boys for Life” breathes new life into the franchise with heart and soul. Yes, in the midst of all the car chases, explosions and slow-mo guns blazing, there’s a giant heart at the center.
There’s nothing in this film you haven’t seen before, and it certainly will be replicated again, but the chemistry between Smith and Lawrence and the kinship they share both on-screen and off, is what elevates the film beyond that of a buddy cop action flick.
In “Bad Boys for Life,” no one is getting any younger. Age may just be a number, but it’s also a glowing reminder that nothing lasts forever except the love and friendship of the partner sitting next to you on a high-speed chase.