The obvious conceit for “Bad Boys for Life” would be to laugh at two middle-aged dudes getting into explosive, camera-spinning shoot-’em-ups and lamenting how this was easier in their younger days. But directors Adil and Bilall pick a smart alternative direction: They tone down the excesses of the two Michael Bay-directed films – from 1995 (vintage Bay) and 2003 (over-the-top Bay) – and focus on the banter and life situations of Mike (Will Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence).
The most fun-to-watch (and possibly the most fun-to-make) parts of “Bad Boys” (1995) are the action sequences, and that’s again the case in the sequel. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that returning director Michael Bay and the four writers of “Bad Boys II” (2003) came up with action sequences first, then strung a loose screenplay around them.
Bad Boys” (1995) is one of those movies that all my friends watched 100 times (or at least parts of it 100 times) back when watching movies via flipping through TV channels was a thing. For whatever reason, I wasn’t in that group – I’ve never been a channel surfer, and I don’t have a hunger for cop-and-crime films – but I can see the movie’s appeal. As Miami Police Department partners, Martin Lawrence (who is actually top-billed) and Will Smith smoothly transition from sitcoms to the big screen and are totally into the spirit of a screenplay laden with off-the-cuff, curse-filled quips.