Martin Lawrence Talks Making Bad Boys For Life Without Michael Bay

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith in Bad Boys II

The stars of the Bad Boys franchise, without question, are Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Their chemistry and comedic interplay is what makes those movies stand out from the buddy-cop formula pack. But one could argue that the third “star” of those two movies was the director, Michael Bay. The bombastic Transformers director cut his teeth early on with the stripped down and streamlined Bad Boys, then kicked it up several notches to the expected Bay-hem with Bad Boys II.

Michael Bay will not return to helm 2020’s highly anticipated Bad Boys for Life. Those duties will fall to relative newcomers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. When we got a moment to speak with Martin Lawrence at the South By Southwest premiere of his new movie The Beach Bum, we asked Lawrence if it was strange doing a Bad Boys sequel without Bay, and he told us:

Well, it’s not so strange because Bilall and Adel are doing a great job. It’s just different directors, but we’re still going to bring you that Bad Boys stuff.

That begs the question, is it Bad Boys simply because Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are returning, or does the franchise actually need Michael Bay’s attitude and visual approach? We’re certainly eager to find out! Just last year, Paramount’s Bumblebee proved that a Bay franchise could survive the addition of a different director. But action franchises in the past have shown mixed results when they lose their original voice.

Die Hard, for example, usually floundered when original director John McTiernan wasn’t at the helm for a sequel. The Lethal Weapon franchise stayed steady with Richard Donner. And the best Terminator movies, so far, have had James Cameron in the director’s chair.

That’s not to say that co-directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah don’t have their own opinion on how to use Martin Lawrence and Will Smith in a Bad Boys movie. Clearly they had a pitch that sold Sony on their ability to get the gig directing Bad Boys For Life. And if Martin Lawrence is giving them the thumbs up for the work that they have done on the sequel so far, then we’re going to take him at his word.

We don’t know a ton about the plot details for Bad Boys For Life, but every once in a while, Will Smith posts an entertaining behind-the-scenes video on his YouTube page. Like this one:

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence will be reteaming for Bad Boys For Life, and the movie is due in theaters on January 17, 2020. Right now, there’s no Michael Bay, but Lawrence tells CinemaBlend that’s no problem. Do you agree with him? Let us know in the comments section below.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.