Bad Boys, bad boys / whatcha gonna do / whatcha gonna do when we rate and review? It’s 2020, and Columbia Pictures has dug deep into its intellectual property vault for a 17-year dormant Will Smith franchise with no meaningful reason to continue. Perhaps more surprising, “Bad Boys For Life” is a hit

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Now for those who know the Bad Boys franchise only as one big exploding car, Be Reel is on the case for a full catch-up and deep dive. The Bad Boys movies follow Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith), two renegade cops and perpetual Internal Affairs nightmares, wreaking havoc on the great city of Miami with the visual stylings of Michael Bay (and his acolytes). Car chases, bikinis, wildly irresponsible gunplay, and sopping wet nightclubs abound. 

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More broadly, the Bad Boys franchise represents lightning in a bottle for elements that draw audiences to popcorn cinema: two then-ubiquitous television stars, a tried-and-true formula for cop dramedies that had already dominated ‘80s film and was about to take over television, and a shameless action director honing his now-iconic visual style. But while these films can be wildly entertaining, we’re also focusing our reappraisal on the underlying rot of a mostly panned trilogy. For one thing, Martin Lawrence and Will Smith don’t, in fact, share a lot of chemistry. Marcus, while the comedic relief to Mike’s danger-junkie persona, is not remotely believable as a cop. Also discussed is the cheap legacy of female supporting characters in these films (see: Téa Leoni, Gabrielle Union, Paola Nuñez), top moments of bystanders and pedestrians hilariously and/or troublingly caught in the crossfire, and whether or not “Bad Boys For Life” includes magical realism.

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