For a long time now, January has been known to be a sort-of cinematic garbage can for studios to dump their trash in at the beginning of the year. Every time we turn the calendar from one year to the next we can expect a hoard of bad movies to fill theaters across the country. Already this year we have seen some of the classic January staples at the theater: the poorly made, cheap horror movie (The Grudge), the forgettable comedy that doesn’t make anybody laugh (Like A Boss), and the strangely star-packed studio hopeful that was clearly riddled with production problems and becomes a disappointment for both the studio and the audiences who went out and saw it (Dolittle). Throw in a disappointing animated film and that’s pretty much all you need to know about the January movie schedule. Which is why I was worried when Bad Boys For Life received a January release date. I’m happy to report though that this is an incredibly fun January film that’s… actually good? And not “so bad that it is good” or “so cheesy that it is good.” No, actually good.
Bad Boys For Life is, of course, the 3rd film in the Bad Boys franchise starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Bad Boys II came out 17 years ago, which was another reason to be worried going into this film. We’ve seen many examples in recent years of Hollywood trying to revive old franchises, that used to make money, in order to get people to go out to the theater, and we’ve seen it fail many times as well. Bad Boys For Life succeeds because it’s a movie that knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to be anything that it is not. It’s simply fun, but with enough of a real story, great chemistry between the actors, and exciting moments to keep you engaged throughout. This movie isn’t going to win an Oscar (even though that would be amazing.) But, it’s not trying to. The movie is trying to entertain people and that’s exactly what it is doing.
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence still have great chemistry and neither one of them feels like they’re mailing this performance in, which is extremely important in these types of sequels. The performances across the board are not unbelievable or anything but they’re not bad either. The standout among the supporting cast is Paola Nuñez who plays a Miami PD officer named Rita. Nuñez steals the scene many of the scenes she is on camera for and holds her own when going back and forth with one of the biggest movie stars in history, Will Smith. The films plot sees detectives Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) working to figure out how a series of murders are connected, catch the people behind these murders, and protect their own lives in the process. Of course, there are twists, turns, and a handful of insane action sequences along the way. Now, I’ve been giving this movie a pretty great review thus far but it is by no means a perfect film. If you try to apply too much logical thinking to some of the scenarios that play out in this film you’ll quickly find that certain things are just not realistic or don’t make a ton of sense. The film is very predictable at times, the story itself isn’t exactly something we’ve never seen before. There is a twist towards the end of the film that probably doesn’t work as well as they were hoping it would but you kind of just accept it while sitting in the theater because you’ve been having such a great time up to that point. Without a doubt the movie has its flaws, but by no means did they ruin the viewing experience for me. Obviously, movies like this are going to be graded a little differently than other types of films because as long as they’re fun, the performances are good, the story makes sense and isn’t overly cliché, then you can ignore some of the flaws that may exist pretty easily. Bad Boys For Life knows exactly why you bought a ticket to see it and gives you everything you wanted from it. And yes, it is absolutely absurd at times, but in the best possible way. I also want to give a quick shoutout to the directing team of Adil and Bilall, as they are known in the credits. I thought the action scenes in this film were shot incredibly effectively. Although I said the story is not the most original thing I’ve ever seen, there are certain camera techniques they use that I have not seen in other action movies before.
Bad Boys For Life is the type of movie I wish studios would give us more of in January. Movies that don’t take themselves too seriously and know what they are, but, are also well-made. Now obviously Bad Boys For Life is a part of an existing successful franchise and comes attached with two real stars, and much of its success is a byproduct of the chemistry of those two stars, but I still think Hollywood is capable of giving us more films like this. The problem with a lot of January films is that not only are they bad movies, they’re just not fun, they’re boring. Bad Boys For Life is a film that is fun throughout and keeps your attention from the first scene to the last. Not all movies are going to be incredibly written, perfectly acted, and masterfully directed. But certain movies can learn from Bad Boys For Life, there is a value in knowing what it is that you’re making and what it is that your audience is looking for, the men and woman behind this film knew that. Which is why I think this film is a blueprint that studios could potentially follow when making similar movies. I’m hoping this happens because the yearly movie slate could always use a little more fun injected into it, and certainly the month of January could.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5