"Bad Boys For Life" is the third movie in the "Bad Boys" Trilogy that has laid stagnant for seventeen years. I could not begin to tell you why Will Smith and co. fought so hard to revive this franchise only to let it be such an aggressively underwhelming movie.
"Bad Boys For Life" is an action movie that attempts to shove humor down your throat every time there are more than two seconds of silence. While all of the characters attempt to be both funny and cool, the least successful was Martin Lawrence’s character, Marcus.
Marcus cannot take a breath without saying a some sort of mediocre quip about his partner and absolutely ruining the momentum in every scene he’s in. While he does have his moments, they are outnumbered by the number of times I genuinely cringed when he ruined at the action climax by just refusing to stay quiet. The sound mixing also made sure we could hear him even when every other cast member was muffled by gunfire or explosions, so there is just no escape.
The writing for this movie is as expected for an action movie. The dialogue, in spite of the intensely aggressive nature of the humor, is actually pretty decent when it’s not trying to be cool. The acting is also better than expected, I genuinely thought that even the worst actor in this film was at worst average- though a few characters flip flop on morals and motivations in very lazy ways . Will Smith gave a genuinely good performance and delivered lines that were absolutely terrible with a sincerity that was refreshing.
The issues I have with the writing lie in the plot and pacing. The plot is incredibly predictable, to the point where anyone who has seen more than two action films could guess plot points minutes in advance. For example, they establish a pattern of people that the villain is attempting to kill and then expects you not to notice something so obvious so that a specific death takes you by surprise. The first quarter of the movie is unbearably fast with multiple close calls the audience just won’t be worried by and multiple bait and switches that are predictable and ineffective.
The remaining hour and a half is so slow in comparison that multiple people in the audience pulled out their phones and completely ignored a good half hour of Marcus not shutting up. The last issue I have is with the writing around Will Smith’s character, Mike.
Mike is the type of fictional cop that gives lawmakers heartburn- he’s rash, aggressive, takes matters into his own hands, and has a body count more than double than the main villain and the movie paints this in an uncomfortably positive light. While the police force was almost entirely characters of color, and most of the cops do seem to actually abide by the law, the aspect of blind hero/cop worship in this climate seems a bit poorly timed.
Special effects such as blood, explosions, and gun-fare are unsurprisingly rampant, but what’s surprising is the inconsistency and budget for said effects. They look terrible. Shattered glass effects are mostly practical, but the final scenes use CGI and the glass looks like… sugar glass- just so intensely fake. Gun flashes in one scene looked like they slapped the same stock image onto three wildly different guns and just refused to animate it. Injuries will often drift between frames or disappear entirely if the character needs to move.
There is a lot of blood, but it all looks far too light and it is possibly the most inconsistent effect. Blood will appear, disappear, and travel in unpredictable directions. In one scene, a person with a neck wound goes off-screen for all of three seconds. The blood before the cut was less than a pint concentrated around his neck and pooled around his collar, after the cut they poured at least three gallons of blood onto their torso so that the character was practically bathing in blood. It feels as if they blew their entire budget of cars and celebrity cameos and gave the effects team scraps.
What was given to the special effects team must have been shared with the camera crew, because it’s also oddly inconsistent. Some following shots are beautifully done with a steady hand and a lot of patience. Other following shots and zoom shots shake noticeably and/or are paced poorly. There are many scenes where we are quite close to the actors’ faces and everything in the background is blurred to the point of abstraction. Action is either immaculately captured or hidden by a poor camera placement or blurred movement, there is no in-between.
This movie is inconsistent not only from scene to scene but inside singular scenes themselves. I don’t believe the technical aspects of the movie were intentionally bad or that the team was lazy. There are scenes where everything looks immaculate. It is just clear that the team was on crunch time and that the budget did not factor effects in.
Overall this movie is incredibly flawed, but still enjoyable to a degree. The action is well-choreographed and the effects averaged out to okay. While the dialogue, characters, and story weren’t fantastic, it’s an action movie that obviously didn’t take itself too seriously. If you are looking for a mindless movie with fairly good acting and action, you may want to look into this film. If you value storytelling, visuals, or comedy over action and actors…. You may want to avoid this film.