Bad Boys for Life: a failed comeback [critique]

Will Smith, Martin Lawrence and Jerry Bruckheimer are still there, “only” missing Michael Bay the artificer. And that’s a shame.

M6 relies on bad boys this week ! After rebroadcasting the two action films by Michael Bay released in 1995 and 2003 in cinemas, the channel is programming this Sunday Bad Boys For Lifediscovered in French theaters in January 2020. Still worn by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, this sequel is this time directed by (Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi, authors of Blackwho have since worked on series Miss Marvel for Disney+). Unfortunately, Première was disappointed with the film when it was released. Here is our review.

Bad Boys for Life – Jerry Bruckheimer: “My motivation? To entertain people!”

As mogul Jerry Bruckheimer struggles to revive the franchise Pirates of the Caribbean and is about to restart Top Gun in a few weeks, he reactivates the saga today bad boys. This buddy movie had in its time (the first part dates from 1995) had the merit of putting two dark-skinned heroes at the very top of the poster of a blockbuster. Big bet, big success. In the mid-90s, Jerry could still count on his own “buddy”, Don Simpson, a borderline alter-ego (drugs, lifting & rock’n’roll), with whom he had reshaped Hollywood (flash dance, the first Tony Scotts including Top Gun…). Simpson will not see the year 2000. Bruckheimer will. 2020, he’s even still around, perhaps less powerful (his relationship with Disney is faltering), but he remains a kind of old school king of mass entertainment, ultra tanned and ultra rich. In 25 years has Hollywood – therefore the world – changed? Do big old-fashioned productions without too many digital effects have a reason? It’s a bit the question that the spectator asks himself at the same time as the two heroes, “too old for his bullshit”. Failing to make it a real dramatic issue (don’t mess around) this Bad Boys for Life wonders less about the relevance of restarting the machine than about the public’s ability to still believe in it. There is thus a heavy question of retirement (whose pivotal age is however not mentioned) throughout the first part of the film. On the one hand, Marcus (Martin Lawrence) dreams of hanging out in front of his TV and playing grandfather, on the other, the eternal bachelor Mike (Will Smith), intends to continue to sing and skip: “Bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do whatcha gonna do, when they come for you? A young Chicano wanker will come to make everyone agree by riddled Mike with bullets, forcing Marcus, the most reluctant of the duo, to put on the gloves. So it’s off to a good start since Mike – spoiler warning! – will not take long to regain the hair of the beast. A false and laborious suspense that immediately weighs down the company.

Michael Bay – Ambulance: “The police love my films, I don’t really know why”

Only one being is missing…

This Bad Boys for Life actually arrives with both arms amputated. Indeed, this late sequel (17 years since the second part) is missing one of the founding fathers of the saga: Michael Bay. The former colt of Bruckheimer who has become a blockbuster on his own (transformers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…), went on Netflix to blast action cinema with a delirious frenzy (Six Underground). Bay appears here on screen in the form of a small cameo that is more cumbersome sponsorship than a nice wink. Jerry Bruckheimer, sorry for this defection, entrusted the orders to a duo of young Belgian directors (Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi, authors of Black came out with us in e-cinema), forced to blend into an ecosystem that is not theirs. Where Bay would have gone up in the towers sending the scenario waltzing in favor of a maelstrom of thrills, the youngsters seem to apologize for wanting to do well. The scenario of this Bad Boys For Life is certainly not very thick but they follow it to the letter and weigh down what should only be accessory. So when Mike (Will Smith) learns the true identity of the young villain, the effect produced – almost nil on the dramatic and emotional level – nevertheless infuses the sequel with a story that has become oddly sentimental. Exit, therefore, the nihilism firefighter. This buddy movie which has nothing of “2.0” therefore becomes irrelevant. Bad Boys for Life ? Not so sure.

Michael Bay: “Ever since Bad Boys, critics have hated my style”

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