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Non-Review Review: Bad Boys For Life

Bad Boys For Life is an extremely stupid and occasionally veering on incoherent film. It is also a lot of fun.

There are any number of obvious problems with Bad Boys For Life. The pacing and plotting is a mess, stopping and starting at random intervals depending on the film’s mood as much as its own internal logic. Characterisation varies wildly from one scene to the next. Bad Boys For Life has even picked up some of the more frustratingly formulaic narrative beats from modern blockbusters, stumbling blindly into overwrought bathos and even attempting to offer a retroactively Freudian origin story for veteran police officer Mike Lowrey. It also understands that modern blockbusters have to be “about” things; in this case, growing old.

Welcome to Miami.

However, a large part of the charm of Bad Boys For Life is the way in which the film seems to have taken virtually every note that an executive might possibly offer and decided to approach these notes in a way that feels surprisingly fitting for a belated follow-up to Michael Bay’s bombastic duology. Bad Boys For Life is unashamedly and unapologetically its own thing. This results in a cocktail that doesn’t exactly go down smooth, but at least offers a refreshing and distinctive flavour. It helps that Belgian directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah lean strongly into the series’ sensibility, and invest heavily in its core strengths.

For all its gestures towards the modern age of intellectual-property-driven franchise-building, Bad Boys For Life grasps that the heart and soul of the series has always been the charm in watching Will Smith and Martin Lawrence bounce off one another. That dynamic between Smith and Lawrence, two performers who know how to work an audience and a camera, are arguably what grounded the first two films – keeping a very human perspective amid the ensuing “Bayhem.” In Bad Boys For Life, they does something similar, adding a charismatic star power that is often absent from contemporary blockbuster production.

Police don’t stop.

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Non-Review Review: Sherlock Holmes

Well. I enjoyed that probably far more than I should have. If you ever wondered what Bad Boys would look like set in turn-of-the-last-century London and featuring a better director, then look no further. Although it would seem to be your typical old-fashioned action yarn in the mode of The Mummy or Shanghai Noon, the movie really works best as a time-displaced buddy cop film – or even just as a regular bromance. The movie is light, quick and entertaining. What more could you expect?

There's going to be bloody 'ell to pay...

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Non-Review Review: Bad Boys

Watching Bad Boys is a strange experience. On one hand, it’s a smooth reminder of the odd-couple cop comedies that were the style of the eighties, right down to an angry and exasperated (but ultimately trusting) chief. On the other, it has adopted all the stylistic mannerisms of the big, bold and empty action movies of the nineties. Advertised as an action comedy, it really doesn’t contain enough of either to justify a watch, and many of its stylistic ticks – driven by an inexperienced Michael Bay – have either been surpassed or become so common that they seem trite. Still, there’s a small charm to the film, most of which stems from the chemistry between the two leads and the way the movie seems to consciously revel in bromantic undertones of the genre. In that regard, it’s ahead of its time. And unlike all of its original ahead-of-it-time selling points, the bromantic angle¬†still works. I’m just not sure that enough of the rest of the movie works to justify it.¬†

I wish I could say the action was explosive...

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