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Film / Bad Boys for Life

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Mike: In these streets, I never trusted anybody but you. I’m asking, man, Bad Boys.
Marcus: One last time?
Mike: One last time.

Bad Boys for Life is a Buddy Cop film and the second sequel to Bad Boys after Bad Boys II, released on January 17, 2020. Unlike the first two films, this one is not directed by Michael Bay (although he does cameo in it), but rather by Belgian directors Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return to reprise their roles.

Mike Lowery (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) are back as usual, though Marcus has hit a midlife crisis and wants to retire (for reals this time). However, when Mike ends up on a case that involves dealing with a Mexican drug lord looking for revenge for her late husband, the two team up for one last adventure to take her down.

A third sequel, Bad Boys: Ride or Die, is set for release on June 7th, 2024.

Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2

Bad Boys for Life contains examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Marcus tells Mike that he plans on retiring from the police force. After Captain Howard's murder at the hands of Armando, Marcus promptly gets pulled out of retirement and has to work with Mike and AMMO.
  • Action Duo: Mike is the Action Hero. After years of being his partner, Marcus is more of an Action Survivor now.
  • Actor Allusion: In the second trailer, Mike refers to a new younger team of cops as "High School Musical boy-band with guns". One of the members of said team is played by Vanessa Hudgens and the trailer cuts to her just as he says this.
  • Amicable Exes: Mike and Rita. It's obvious a spark still smolders between them. By the end of the movie, Rita outranks him, but tells him he looks good with a baby, so...
  • Artifact Title: Unlike the first two films that gave both policemen equal time in the spotlight - this installment is largely focused on Mike, with Marcus more or less serving as a supporting character.
  • Asshole Victim: Drug and weapons dealer Terry Taglin gets a Slashed Throat and Boom, Headshot! from Armando for trying to to double-cross him.
  • The Atoner: Armando is visited by his father Mike who is wracked with guilt over the crimes committed in his mother's name against his father. Mike decides to give him an opportunity to do so.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Mike is taken down by a number of shots. A montage follows of Marcus tenderly keeping watch over his bedside. The scene then changes to a grassy field and Marcus crying. A preacher says some thoughtful words and smiles — because it's Marcus' daughter's wedding.
  • Battle in the Rain: When the final battle begins, the setting immediately becomes a downpour, complete with Dramatic Thunder. Also overlaps with Battle Amongst the Flames after Isabel's helicopter crashes into the building when Marcus shoots it down.
  • Berserk Button: Manny makes the big mistake of getting pig fat on Mike's slick suit. He immediately spills out the info Mike wanted before Mike was about to go ballistic on him.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Marcus' eyesight has deteriorated with age, and while he can see around himself just fine, he is no longer a crackshot and needs glasses to hit his target.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: When it comes to the conflict between Mike and A.M.M.O. and their differing methods; Mike is a Cowboy Cop who embraces old vigilante-style Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique and Shoot Everything That Moves tactics, while A.M.M.O. are a By-the-Book Cop squad who use violence as a last resort, something Marcus is also eager to use. Despite the difference, neither is presented as 'better'; Mike mocks the more pacifist approach (and Marcus' attempt to use it ends embarrassingly), but at every step A.M.M.O. keep up with him, acquiring the exact same intel he does without torturing anyone, and though Mike's experience and expertise is useful when violence is needed, it also often proves to be too messy when used excessively, and usually ends with targets they want alive dead instead. In the end, it's Mike's style of violence that neutralises Isabel's forces, but Armando himself is stopped by Mike embracing the pacifist Defusing the Tyke-Bomb approach, which ultimately leads to a Heel–Face Turn and saves their lives.
  • Boxed Crook: In the first stinger, Mike visits Armando who wants to atone for his actions. Mike decides to help him with that.
  • Breaking Out the Boss: The plot kicks off when Armando helps Isabel escape from prison.
  • Catchphrase: "Ride together. Die together. Bad Boys for life." So well known that all their friends and Marcus' family say it along with Mike at the wedding toast for Marcus' daughter. Hilariously used again when Mike and Marcus go to Mexico City.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Mike compares the AMMO team to "High School Musical for cops" when Vanessa Hudgens is part of the team.
  • Character Aged with the Actor: Bad Boys as a whole takes place in quasi-real-time, so the 17-year Sequel Gap since the last movie also happened in-universe. Accordingly, both Mike and Marcus are approaching their fifties, just like their respective actors (who currently are in their fifties)
  • Continuity Nod: Reggie, the kid who Mike and Marcus made their own Butt-Monkey in the previous film, not only returns as Marcus' son in law, but gives him a grandson.
  • Cranial Eruption: Involved in a vehicular chase with a suspect named Zway-Lo, Mike fires a rubber bullet, courtesy of A.M.M.O., at Zway-Lo's head. Although skeptical of the weapon at first, Mike is impressed at the large forehead contusion that immediately forms on Zway-Lo; Marcus is both repulsed and fascinated, and can't resist poking it.
    Marcus: It's calling to me!
  • Create Your Own Hero: Played with in that Isabel didn't know Mike was undercover when he was her driver and that his entire Cowboy Cop persona stemmed from the way she groomed him as a young man.
  • Create Your Own Villain: On the other hand, Mike's affair with Isabel produced Armando, who became a massive threat to his father.
  • Darker and Edgier: Although it still maintains its "buddy cop" humor just like the previous two, it's tenser in plot and has a number of dramatic moments.
  • Deconstruction: Of the ultra-macho Vigilante Man Cowboy Cop Action Hero movie archetype that the first two films embraced. Mike repeatedly uses the most excessively violent methods possible to bring the bad guys in...and all it ever really accomplishes is getting potential leads killed. Though Mike's clearly competent at his job and his methods do get results, A.M.M.O. use non-lethal rounds, high-tech surveillance, and follow the rules, and each time they prove to be just as effective. At one point Mike presents a lead to Captain Howard, only to find out a few minutes later that AMMO had already found the name he'd just beaten out of someone because modern surveillance tech is just that efficient.
  • Defusing the Tyke-Bomb: Mike recognizes that Armando is just a kid who's been raised by a psychopath, and so instead of fighting/killing him, he uses the approach Marcus attempted and talks him down. He succeeds.
  • Died on Their Birthday: Mike and Marcus corner Zway-Lo at his birthday celebration at a loud South Beach club. He ends the night with a bullet in his forehead, which is not what they planned.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: After Mike shoots Zway-Lo in the head with a rubber bullet, it raises a massive edema on his forehead. The sight is so disgusting and yet fascinating that Marcus cannot resist poking the bump with his finger, despite nearly throwing up.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Armando does not want to involve innocent bystanders while carrying out his hits, then refuses to go through with killing Mike after learning of their blood relationship.
  • Feeling Their Age: Especially in regards to Marcus who is clearly past his prime in this movie, such as needing prescription glasses to display the Improbable Aiming Skills he did in the previous installments.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Isabella berates Armando for shooting Mike first, and tells him "never disobey me again!" He hangs up, tosses his phone down and kicks a crate in frustration before turning his attention to the remaining targets on his mother's revenge list. He turns on Isabella in the climax when he learns she lied to him about his parentage.
    • While Isabella is patting down Mike in the Hidalgo:
      Isabella: There was a time when one touch from me would have melted you.
      Rita: [watching this on surveillance] I'm gonna kill her myself.
  • The Generation Gap: One of the setups for the film involves Mike being forced to work alongside A.M.M.O., a squad of millennial cops with whom he has nothing in common.
  • Glasses of Aging: Despite having been a crack shot Gun Slinger in the previous movies (set 20 years earlier), Marcus now needs prescription glasses to hit his targets. Throughout the film, his denial of this fact repeatedly puts him in danger until his partner Mike finally manages to convince him to accept and to adapt to his age.
  • Helicopter Blender: Marcus accidentally causes this when he doesn't hear Mike telling him to go for the rotors of Isabel's getaway chopper, shooting the pilot and causing the helicopter to veer inside the abandoned hotel and forcing everyone to take cover.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • Played with when Marcus quits the force. Mike had to be revived after being shot so Marcus uses that to renege on their wager from the race.
    • Mike's method of convincing Marcus that God gave him a minigun so he could "smite" His enemies. Marcus wasn’t leaving him much choice to be honest.
  • ...In That Order: Isabella insists that Mike be the last one on her Enemies List to die, and berates Armando for shooting him ahead of all the others.
  • Ironic Juxtaposition: Mike's Lock-and-Load Montage intercut with Marcus enjoying retirement:
    • Mike throws on his suit jacket while exiting his condo; Marcus throws on his bathrobe while heading to his living room;
    • A POV shot as Mike takes his pistol from a wall safe and checks it; another POV shot as Marcus retrieves a burrito from the microwave;
    • Mike takes the wheel of his Porsche and puts on his sunglasses; Marcus puts on his glasses and turns on the TV;
    • Mike puts his car in gear and roars away; Marcus cranks the lever on his recliner and puts his feet up.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Two for Will Smith:
    • DJ Khaled (Manny the butcher) previously collaborated with Smith on the rap cover of "Friend Like Me" for Aladdin (2019);
    • Happy Anderson (Picante Jenkins) appeared with Smith in Bright (2017).
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Marcus accidentally shot up the dashboard of Mike’s Ferrari in the second movie. One would say Carver Remy landing on Marcus’ car is karmic payback.
  • Loophole Abuse: Marcus invokes it against Mike after he gets revived after Armando shoots him in the beginning.
    Mike: What about "bad boys for life"?
    Marcus: That's over. You died. You coded out three times!
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Mike finds out that Armando is his biological son, and intends to fight him himself. He then decides to try to get through with him by telling him he is his real father which Isabel confirms. This prompts Armando's Heel–Face Turn and wants to be The Atoner.
  • Married to the Job: Mike was always involved with and passionate about the job but he has become this even more so over the years in the eyes of Marcus and Captain Howard whom both voice their concerns about and warn-advise Mike that he needs to find something else to do with his life away from police work before it's too late.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Downplayed, but Isabel has a reputation for being a 'bruja' (a witch) and quite often starts chanting in Spanish in such a way that people believe she's casting spells before she brutally murders them. Though it might just be Marcus being Marcus, he treats it as if she's genuinely magic. It appears, in actuality, people are just so freaked out by how creepy her witch act is that it makes a great distraction.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: Mike's description of Armando as "fearless", "ruthless", and "crazy";
    Mike: He's the fucked-up me!
    Marcus: No, Mike. You the fucked-up you.
  • Offscreen Breakup: While driving to meet one of their former informants, Mike mentioned in passing that he and Syd had broken up between the second and third film, much to Marcus' annoyance.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Mike makes a crude remark about Rafe's mother when they're still adversarial co-workers. By the end of the film, Rafe is routinely referencing the crack to needle Mike.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: After Mike recovers, he tries to get Marcus to join him in getting revenge, but can't due to the latter's 10-Minute Retirement. After Howard's assassination at the hands of Armando, Marcus comes out of retirement to join the fight once more.
  • The Promise: Played with. Marcus fervently prays for Mike's recovery to the point of promising God he will do no more violence. Mike rationalizes for Marcus to get him to use a gun in a chase.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Isabella was determined that Mike die last, so the deaths of the others on her Enemies List would inflict the maximum amount of suffering on him before he was finally killed. Had she applied a little more reason, she might have realized that of all the people on her list (two retired law enforcement officers, a judge, an underworld snitch, and Captain Howard), Mike was the greatest threat to her and the one most likely to Pay Evil unto Evil, and leaving him until last would probably backfire..
  • Retirony: Howard tells Mike it's his time to retire... and not long after that, he's immediately shot to death by Armando.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Isabel is an utterly psychotic Cartel leader who has no problem murdering anybody who gets in her way (and she has a very big beef with Mike), has actually gone out of her way to develop said reputation with her "bruja" act, and has raised her own son (and Mike's) as her personal assassin.
  • Sequel Hook: Mike visiting Armando in prison for a mission, with Armando accepting.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Notable non-video-game aversion, when Marcus, from the ground, shoots a helicopter out of the air with a well placed shotgun blast to the pilot.
  • Soft Water: Mike jumps from a helicopter ladder while chasing Armando and lands in the river below. Unsurprisingly, Armando knew he would survive the fall.
  • The Stinger: There are two. The first is Mike walking up to Armando with an offer that could help shorten his sentence. The second is a Brick Joke based on Marcus' being appalled that Mike had sex with Isabel without a condom.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Captain Howard.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Marcus attempts this on a coked-out criminal that him and Mike are holding at gunpoint. It doesn't end well.
  • That One Case: pretty much the entire plot of the film. Isabel wants revenge on everyone involved in the case that put her husband away
    Marcus: I got this. I’m going to penetrate this man’s soul with my heart.
    Mike: What?
    Marcus: Watch and learn. Sir, I realize that you’re scared. You know, sometimes...
    [The criminal suddenly punches Marcus in the face, sending him towards a desk.]
    Mike: How deep you think you got into his soul?
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Marcus is taken aback by the arsenal in the trunk of Mike's car:
    Marcus: Mike, you don't need a grenade launcher!
    Mike: Yeah, but I want one.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: Marcus wants to deal criminals non-violently. When that doesn't work, and Mike's prodding, he resorts back to shooting targets.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Reggie, of all people, became a Marine some time between Bad Boys 2 and this movie.
  • Vanity: A Running Gag throughout the whole movie is that Marcus is too vain to wear his glasses. As a result he misses shots and catches until Mike finally convinces him to put them on.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: Played With. Mike's default setting, which Marcus, Captain Howard, and A.M.M.O. all have to deal around.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Poor Marcus; he accidentally opens the passenger door of Mike's 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S (retail value: $120,000 minimum) into a fire hydrant, then he borrows his wife's SUV to meet an informant, only for said informant to be tossed off a balcony and land right on the vehicle, caving in the roof to a darkly comic degree.
  • Wham Line: "Hasta el fuego."
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!:
    • Armando's reaction when Terry Taglin tries to double-cross him; he's not angry so much as exasperated.
    • Mike DOES NOT take it well when he finds out Marcus quit the force, effectively reneging on their wager and leaving him to find his would-be killer on his own.