By: Kevin Jordan
So this is what death throes look like.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I was a little too talkative one day during math class. My teacher told me stay after the bell rung, and, once everyone else had left the room, told me I could not leave until I acted like a dying cockroach. “Seriously?” I asked, knowing full well he was not bluffing. Since I knew that I had behaved like an ass and I had a lot of respect for him, I reluctantly got down on back and did my impression of a dying cockroach. It was embarrassing and awkward and I kept my mouth in check the rest of the year. Bad Boys for Life is a two-hour approximation of what I looked and felt like for those five seconds flailing around on the floor.
Bad Boys for Life is a mid-life crisis for a lot of people. Just like Samuel Jackson reprising his role as Shaft due to a need to release the amount of fucks he had bottled up while appearing in two dozen Marvel films, Will Smith felt the need to remind everybody that, despite being fifty-one years old, he is a badass who can still get chicks. Especially after Gemini Man tanked in between him voicing an animated bird (Spies in Disguise) and portraying the genie in Aladdin. How else do you explain this sequel coming seventeen years after the last sequel came out?
And let’s not forget about Martin Lawrence. Name any movie Martin Lawrence was in since Wild Hogs (2007). Exactly. The list is short with just nine credited movies/TV shows. Of course he was going to jump at a chance to be in something people might actually watch on purpose. Of course he was going to jump at a chance to relive his glory days from the late 1990s. Of course he was going to jump at a chance to remind people that he was still alive.
(SPOILER ALERT, if you actually care about anything beyond gunfire and explosions.)
The best thing I can say about Bad Boys for Life is at least Martin Lawrence is still funny. Because, otherwise, this movie is completely worthless. Nearly the entire film is one long acknowledgement that Detectives Mike Lowry (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) are getting too old for this shit. So much so that Marcus literally retires from the police force, much to the chagrin of Mike, who still thinks of himself as a young, hip, super-cop. To prove he still has it, Mike drunkenly challenges Marcus to a footrace out on the street. Yes, it is embarrassing, made even more so by these two fifty-year olds attempting to smack talk each other in front of their decaying captain (Joe Pantoliano) and a bunch of passersby. When an assassin guns Mike down in the middle of the race, you almost think “good.”
This brings us to the plot of the movie and I use the word “plot” loosely. The widow of a Mexican drug lord Mike took down twenty-five years earlier wants revenge on Mike and all of the law enforcement people involved in the case. There is no reason for her to have waited a quarter century to get revenge, but that amount of time is required for the incredibly trite reveal near the end of the movie. That is the entire film, interlaced with Mike continually arguing with a special police unit assigned to track down the assassin. It should not surprise you that, given this movie is a mid-life crisis, that unit is comprised of three young hot shots and a not-quite-as-young set of double-Ds in heels that Mike dated at some point after the second movie. Of course the incredibly insecure Mike Lowry is going to feel his manhood threatened and overcompensate. That is what fifty-year-old men going through a mid-life crisis do.
Besides the constant explosions and gunshots ringing out of the speakers, the only thing keeping me from falling asleep was Marcus (Lawrence) cracking jokes. That is not to say that every joke was funny, just that enough funny ones were sprinkled throughout the movie to keep me mildly entertained. He also served to break the awkwardness of many scenes where Mike is either comparing dicks with hot-shot Rafe or people are literally singing the theme from Cops. I can only hope that in ten years, when I am their age and get some stupid idea in my head to make myself feel younger, my wife kicks me in the nuts. That way, while I am writhing on the floor like a dying cockroach, she can remind me about how stupid I look trying to relive my past.
Rating: Ask for all of your money back or a kick to the nuts.