Main cast: Will Smith (Michael Eugene Lowery), Martin Lawrence (Marcus Miles Burnett), Paola Núñez (Rita Secada), Theresa Randle (Theresa Burnett), Vanessa Hudgens (Kelly), Alexander Ludwig (Dorn), Charles Melton (Rafe), Jacob Scipio (Armando Aretas), Kate del Castillo (Isabel Aretas), Nicky Jam (Lorenzo “Zway-Lo” Rodríguez), and Joe Pantoliano (Captain Conrad Howard)
Directors: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah
Bad Boys II was dire, although it probably did well enough in the box office to warrant a sequel… which finally emerged after seventeen years. Apparently, at first Will Smith thought himself too big to lower himself for another go, then it was due to delays, then it was studio interference, then it was this and that. How lucky that very few people are holding their breath waiting for this movie to come out.
Of course, everyone is older now, and for a moment, I am hoping that this movie would play on the trope of how the moment you announce your retirement, you die. Unfortunately, Marcus has a plot armor so thick that it makes little difference that he does just that here. Another character does bite the bust when he retires, maybe because he’s not the main character. As for the rest of the movie, it plays like an old-fashioned movie cobbled together using tropes in an unimaginative manner, and the premise of the plot gives me some uneasy flashbacks to the boring Gemini Man.
So yes, Marcus wants to retire. His wife Theresa has given birth to a son, and all he wants now is a stable, drama-free life with his family. Unfortunately, his partner Mike’s past will come back to haunt them soon enough. Isabel Aretas, the widow of a drug kingpin and one of Mike’s many exes, breaks out of prison with the aid of her son Armando, and now she wants everyone in her crap list to be six feet under. She gives her son a list of people to kill, with Mike at the bottom because she wants him to sweat a bit or something like that.
Alas, Armando messes up and sends Mike into a coma first. Fortunately, Mike too has plot armor and he is soon feeling better. He teams up with the Advanced Miami Metro Operations (AMMO) under under the orders of his superior Captain Howard – Mike is lone wolf who only plays nice with Marcus, yadda yadda yadda – and heading AMMO is, surprise, another one of Mike’s many, many exes, Rita. Seriously, I’m surprised that he doesn’t stake out at the local high school waiting to deflower every girl that walks out the gates because this is getting ridiculous. Eventually, certain events cause Marcus to realize that he needs to come out of retirement – much to Mike’s joy because you know that’s his true bro that he wants to walking dramatically side by side with as the explosions go off behind them – and we have a reunion.
Sadly, like most sequels, Bad Boys for Life chugs on like it is desperate to recapture the peak point of the series – the first film, naturally – by rehashing the same elements that made that movie work very well. We also have kick-ass women – but not too kick-ass to the point of overshadowing our male leads, of course – alongside appearances by rappers and urban music artists, the obligatory fight scene in the club, et cetera. The whole thing feels mechanical and even tired, and I feel like I’m watching a movie made by people who just wanted to get this out and watch the money roll in. There’s no spark, if I am making sense here.
That’s not to say that this movie is unwatchable – that’s the previous movie in this franchise, heh. It’s a competently put-together film, and the two lead actors still have good chemistry together. Yes, there are women in this story too, but as usual, they aren’t allowed to intrude into the central bromance story line of the two main characters – they are side pieces that may get to touch the pee-pees of these men now and then, but oh no, they are not getting a central role in this bromance, no indeed. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just that this also means that the main characters never grow. They just go through the same “character journey” over and over, regressing prior to the next movie to begin the same old journey anew.
Hence, this movie and the one that came before it both feel like pale imitations of the far superior first film. Here, the energy feels muted and I find myself thinking, while sitting through this one, that maybe I should just rewatch Bad Boys to see whether it stands the test of time.