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Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys For Life

Bad Boys was one of those early movies that made director Michael Bay into the director we know him as today. The film and its sequel are perfect examples of the director's particular style and both well loved by action movie fans. Now, 17 years later, the franchise returns, without bringing Bayhem along for the ride. While this is a franchise a lot of people have likely been excited to see return, there's always the fear that after so much time has passed, something has been lost. However, based on the reviews hitting the internet right now, it sounds like Bad Boys For Life is largely worth the wait.

That's certainly the view of CinemaBlend's Managing Director (and resident Bad Boy For Life himself) Sean O'Connell. While Sean admits the movie has some flaws in some of the plotting, he largely believes the things that made the first two movies good, the pairing of stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and solid action, work here just as well as they did back then. He gave the movie 3.5 stars in his review, sating...

The anticipated sequel punches hard, drives fast through stylish explosions, cracks sharper-than-expected jokes, and basically celebrates everything that worked about the first two Bad Boys movies… while also falling victim to a few of the exaggerated flaws of the franchise, as well.

That seems to be an opinion carried by many who have seen Bad Boys For Life ahead of its release this Friday. The story sees Will Smith's Mike and Martin Lawrence's Marcus having aged in tandem with the actors that play them. Both are still Miami detectives, but they're a little older and have maybe lost a step. Marcus has become a grandfather, while Mike is still single, though perhaps not as happy that way. While the action of the new movie probably isn't quite up to the standards of Michael Bay, that's ok, these guys aren't that young anymore. As Indiewire puts it, it's still fun to watch these characters, even after all these years...

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Bad Boys for Life doesn’t aim to raise the bar on its genre or rewrite the blockbuster rulebook, but it’s a blast watching Lawrence and Smith revisit these characters and find a sensible place for them in the current Hollywood landscape.

It's sort of amazing that we're actually sitting here talking about a Bad Boys 3 that is actually about to hit theaters. The film has been talked about for basically the last 17 years since the last one came out, and there always seemed to be some interest in making it happen, but never enough for it to actually make it to screen. Then recently, there was a renewed effort that still went through multiple screenwriters before a final story was ready. Three different screenwriters are credited for Bad Boys For Life.

But what's clear is that fans, or at least critics, largely missed not only this movie, but this kind of movie. Variety says the movie ticks all the trope boxes for your standard buddy cop action movie, but that's not a problem, that why it works...

Bad Boys for Life is a lavishly conventional cop movie and a comedy of cranky fast camaraderie...That it works at all is a testament to how even an entertainment rooted in this much formula extravagance can now seem comfortingly old-fashioned.

While most reviews are of the "don't worry, it's good" variety, there are some outliers on either end. On the positive side, Uproxx actually calls Bad Boys For Life the best film in the series, saying...

For the first time ever, I cared about Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. And for the first time, yes, I hope some more Bad Boys come for me. Whatcha gonna do? Well, I’d watch them! Happily, for once.

On the other side, there are a few harsher critics. Screen Daily doesn't think the Bad Boys franchise has aged as well as others do, saying...

Although Bad Boys For Life’s worldview is far less objectionable, the filmmakers haven’t figured out how to enliven a series whose pleasures were always a bit shallow. At the time of 1995’s Bad Boys, Smith and Lawrence were TV stars transitioning to the big screen, and so the conceit of having the comics play tough-talking, mismatched Miami cops was amusing. But with Bad Boys For Life,their argumentative shtick has grown stale, with neither character able to surprise us.

Similarly, the Chicago Tribune takes aim mostly at the plot of the movie, which it's reviewer doesn't think amounts to much, as ultimately the movie is an excuse to get these characters on screen again, and the details aren't important...

Its mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make a jaded 2020 audience glad to see these guys again. The movie’s not the point. The boys are the point.

Audiences have always gone in for the Bad Boys movies, both films have identical 78% scores on Rotten Tomatoes, but this is the first time that critics have had much of anything nice to say about the film. Perhaps that's because so much time has past, and now many of the critics come from the those who were audiences members and fans of the previous installments. Maybe Bad Boys just gets better with age. Whatever the reason, whether or not you think Bad Boys For Life is actually the best film in the franchise, it's already starting to look like it might be the best reviewed film in the series.

Clearly, the worst case scenario here, is that bad Boys For Life provides some solid buddy comedy mixed with over the top action. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then it sounds like Bad Boys For Life might very well be the movie for you.

And that's potentially even better news than it sounds like for the franchise, as the new movie teases that Mike and Marcus might not actually be done quite yet, Will we get a Bad Boys 4? It probably depends on if audiences are still excited for the franchise the way the critics largely are.

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