There’s no telling whether Bad Boys for Life, the Bad Boys II follow-up at least a decade in the making, will be any “good” or not, if only because, you know, it’s not out yet. But what I can say is that it looks comfortably familiar.
We open on a late-model Porsche ripping through South Beach. Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are in it, bickering like brothers-in-law, or an older married couple that’s stopped pretending the relationship is about anything other than the kids. There’s a vaguely European supervillain with a rocket launcher, a shootout in a heavy industrial building, gratuitous highway explosions that can later be debunked on MythBusters, and Joe Pantoliano, being sweaty and ticky. Marcus is trying out some stuff on the job that he more than likely read about in a self-help book; Mike is kicking in doors dressed like a Saks Fifth mannequin. What I’m saying is Bad Boys for Life seems to basically just be Bad Boys II the way Bad Boys II was more or less Bad Boys. You haven’t seen it yet, but you get it, you know?
Of course, a lot of time and, I assume, internal affairs investigations have passed. Cops can’t be cowboys anymore. Driving through a shopping mall comes with actual legal recourse instead of just “paperwork.” “Bad Boys for Life,” the song, is canon enough to be stretched into a dire trailer score. As stylish as Mike can make a pistol whip look, he doesn’t slide over cars as smoothly as he used to, and I doubt Marcus is chasing a perp down on foot anymore. They’re both edging closer to retirement when an Albanian mercenary, whose brother they killed, offers them an “important bonus in revenge,” according to the “Premise” section on Wikipedia. Shit just got real, for the third time.
Bad Boys III, later Bad Boys for Lif3, which finally became Bad Boys for Life, has been various levels of “in production” since at least 2008, when I was in high school. Now that teen angst has paid off and I’m bored and old, so too are my favorite renegade cops, who now get sore in places they didn’t used to. Time has not made them any better at doing things “by the book,” and they still make time for full-on conversations during firefights. It’s perfect! This is perfect.
For Life is going to drop during prime B-movie time, in January, one week after Kristen Stewart is attacked by deep-sea creatures, on the same Friday as The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle. The budget was reportedly five times that of the original Bad Boys. In other words, fellow people who enjoy a loud, dumb action flick with a wafer-thin plot, we are going to eat.