Note: This review contains major spoilers about Bad Boys For Life.
This era may well be known as the era of the reboot. Over the last few months, we’ve heard about reboots of Coming To America, Set It Off and New Jack City. Many have been met with skepticism because it’s hard to stomach the things we love possibly being mishandled. Moreover, there’s always a question of how these classic films will be redone. These questions will plague modern day versions of Set It Off and New Jack City until they hit the big screen, but Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s Bad Boys For Life may fall in line closer to Eddie Murphy’s Coming To America. Yes, there are some new characters. Yes, it is set in the modern day, but with the classic characters leading the way it very much lives up to the hype of the original.
From the jump, it is very clear that Michael Bay’s legacy lives within this film. In the opening moments, we find Smith and Lawrence reprising their roles as Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett as they race through the Miami streets. However, what comes next is the embodiment of what Insecure‘s Natasha Rothwell would call, “growth.” Bad Boys legend, Reggie, returns to the screen as the father of Burnett’s grandson and his soon to be son-in-law. In moments, the tone is set for the rest of the movie. Burnett and Lowrey are not just adults, they’re grown men with lives and families to think about.
Much of the movie centers around Lowrey’s life after work. Time after time, Burnett does to Lowrey what Joe does to Mal on the Joe Budden Podcast, he questions him about his love life and asks him whether he’s ever been hurt before. Lowrey denies until he finds himself knocking heaven or hell’s door after an attempt is made on his life. Later on, we find that Lowrey has been in love and he has been hurt before. In fact, his hurt then is what is hurting him now. His former girlfriend is using their son to kill him for sending her to jail years ago. However, it’s much bigger than that.
Prior to teaming up with Burnett in Miami, Lowrey worked as a deep undercover operative within a Mexican cartel led by Isabel and Diego Aretas. As Isabel’s driver, Lowrey develops a romantic relationship with Isabel that leads to a child. While Lowrey originally promised Isabel that he would not turn her in and runaway with her, she ends up behind bars. However, she was secretly pregnant with his child at the time. When she escapes, she instructs her son to kill Lowrey without telling him that he is his father. As you can imagine, this leads to a lot of confusion and jokes coming from Burnett towards Lowrey.
The aspect of Bad Boys For Life that makes it special is its ability to make old characters matter to a younger generation. As a twenty-four year old writer, I did not grow up watching Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or even the Bad Boys movies in real time. I watched Martin on MTV 2, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on Nickelodeon and Bad Boys 2 on YouTube. Those who are younger than me may not be watching these things at all. With all of that being said, I can say that Bad Boys For Life set up a back story that makes me care about Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. More importantly, it introduced new characters like the AMMO Squad that provide comic relief. At the very same time, it brought back old favorites like Reggie and Captain Howard. All in all, there is something for everybody. Bad Boys For Life is not great because it plays on the success of the old, it is great because it introduces the franchise to a brand new generation that can pick up at movie three and move forward.