Marcus: One last time?
Mike: One last time.
Bad Boys for Life is the third installment in the Bad Boys series of Buddy Cop Show films, 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 and Bilall Fallah (executive producers of Snowfall and who are likewise helming the 4th Beverly Hills Cop movie... eventually). 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.
Bad Boys for Life contains examples of:
- 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...
- 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 HeelFace Turn and saves their lives.
- 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 pushing their fifties, just like their respective actors.
- 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 Rated M for Manly 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. In a bit of Reality Ensues, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Not So Different: As it turns out, Mike and Isabel shared a LOT in common - and by extension, it's why Mike dresses and acts like a cool hitman-type dude (Marcus even notes this was why Mike continually dresses up like a drug dealer, despite being a cop). This extends to his son, who is just as flashy...
- 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.
- 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.
- Retirony: Howard tells Mike it's his time to retire... and not long after that, he's immediately shot to death by Armando.
- 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.
- 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.Marcus: I got this. Im going to penetrate this mans soul with my heart.Mike: What?Marcus: Watch and learn. Sir, I realize that youre 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?
- 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.
- 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.