Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: Bad Boys for Life

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Copyright: Sony Pictures

If I ever have the misfortune of having kids, then I can’t wait for the day they ask me about the Bad Boys trilogy. They’ll look at me with big, wondering eyes, an innocent sparkle as they wonder whether the pairing of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence was successful in their third iteration, Bad Boys for Life. I’ll tenderly tell them, no, it was a waste of time and effort on my part to view it, a waste of time for those involved for having to make it and a waste of time for the poor people at Odeon cinema who had the displeasure of screening it to a sold out cinema room of audience members who guffawed and chuckled at the newest entry into the famous action series.

Tasked with taking down the drug dealing son of the villain from the second film, Bad Boys for Life makes it no secret that our two leads have fallen to father time. It feels just like last year that Will Smith starred in a film about how younger versions of yourself are the future, maybe because that film was last year. Between Bad Boys for Life and Gemini Man, Smith enters a phase of his career that he has managed to avoid for several years up until now. The inevitable action films that nobody will remember era of his career, and for a man that can’t really act all that well, he’s been extremely lucky not to get dropped into this genre much, much earlier.

His sparring partner, Martin Lawrence, has fared much worse. Presumably his final outing before being tossed into the dustbin of obscurity, he and Smith pair up one last time in a miserably unfunny and lacklustre action film that already feels dated, dreary and dumb. Lawrence looks out of breath and uncoordinated in the scenes where he’s sat unmoving and Smith doesn’t look like he’s received enough money to give off a performance that makes it seem like he really cares about his role. Who can blame either of them, with a script this bad it’s no surprise you’ve got two leading characters that give off the look of someone who regrets signing up for a third iteration of a frankly dreadful series of films.

Dealing with the age of the actors and the new standard set by the action film industry, Bad Boys for Life struggles to keep itself relevant around every corner. Unhelpful as they are optimistic, directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Farrah continue to troop on through their dire scenarios. Scene after scene of conventional and boring plot points and cliché set-ups, we get little to no feel for their direction or sense of authorial voice. Nobodies, which is a shame given that this is their Hollywood breakthrough, and doing something different to what Michael Bay had to offer in his earlier outputs would’ve provided us with something much more interesting.

Instead, they offer up the worst film in the trilogy, marred with an unoriginal plot that looks to jump through the hoops of the genre. Reeling in a handful of familiar faces to reaffirm their limited value, the likes of Joe Pantoliano are spotted throughout. Pantoliano is seemingly of no value to the directors, and he gets jolted around the occasional light scene until ultimately becoming surplus to requirement.

A sad display of two leading actors who haven’t had the chance to output anything of enjoyable merit in more or less an entire decade, Bad Boys For Life is one last clutch at stardom for two fleeting stars that find themselves completely out of their depth in the world of modern action films. They may have started a trend with the bravado and burly explosions of the late 90s, but their format is tired and running on its last legs. Bad Boys may be for life, but they’ve far exceeded their lifespan.