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Smith and Lawrence become ‘Bad Boys for Life’ with newest movie

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Publicity

“Bad Boys for Life” sees Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return to their iconic roles as Miami PD detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, 17 years after the release of “Bad Boys II.” 

Like a true sequel, this film is packed with recurring jokes, characters and references that will bring a smile to the face of anyone who considers themselves a fan of the first two films. 

This film is free of director Michael Bay who directed the first two films and it shines brighter than both “Bad Boys” and “Bad Boys II.”  

Much like “Bumblebee” to the Transformer’s series, “Bad Boys for Life” improves drastically with the departure of Bay. 

Where the first two films struggle from a lack of concentration and focus, “Bad Boys for Life” excels.

 If this film is lacking anything from its original creator, it’s a sense of unique, stylistic action. 

The action given in this film is fine and it’s emotionally driven; however, it’s missing the pulsing camera, breakneck editing and notorious explosions of action extraordinaire Bay, though the trade of stylistic action for emotional stakes and a less dominant plot is a refreshing one.

The main conflict and drive of the film is much more relevant to the lives of the characters and it allows for them to have more of a personal stake in the story compared to the first two films. 

The dynamic between Smith and Lawrence is as strong as ever and a large portion of the film’s fun is their familiarity with each other as well as their dichotomous nature. 

One of its most interesting, humorous and ultimately humbling aspects is its understanding that the two leads are not young hotshots anymore. 

The entire emotional drive is surrounded by the fact that Marcus and Mike are no longer 25-year-olds. 

The film doesn’t pretend like its characters are young and exciting. Instead, it revels in the fact that they are old and approaching the downslope of the proverbial hill. 

This idea not only provides some really strong emotional moments, it also provides a lot of humor, especially from Lawrence’s character Marcus. 

The boldest aspect about this film, however, is that it’s not afraid to pull the emotional strings and do something unexpected in a way that drives the story. 

The main drawback is that it sometimes uses generic and blustering action set pieces to pad the runtime and move the story along. 

The emotional stakes and drive are abundantly present, but the film still feels the need create this absurdly grand action set piece filled with a crashing helicopter, a pit of fire and way too much focus on extraneous characters.

Moving past the narrative beats of the film, aesthetically it doesn’t establish itself as anything visually unique, dynamic or particularly interesting. 

Cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert’s work is very simple, so the film relies much more on its words than its visual techniques. 

It behooves any film to put more care and effort into the cinematography as it is a visual medium. The action too is more like Fast and Furious than John Wick

Given the emotional and personal stakes, a more lowkey, well-choreographed and visceral action would’ve served the film far better than the guns and explosions, but a few of the chase scenes and shoot-outs did provide a fun dose of adrenaline. 

“Bad Boys for Life” picks up a franchise dormant for seventeen years and breathes life into it. 

It manages to take the core of what made the first two films enjoyable and create a more honest, personal and humbling journey than the franchise was capable of up to this point.

 Instead of trying to make a 2000s throwback filled with middle-aged men acting like young rookie cops, it follows the natural progression of the characters we know and love, and it’s all for the better. 

While still tending to get loud, noisy and lacking a true visual voice, it provides an exciting, funny and heartfelt journey for Lowrey and Bennet. 

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