The evolution — and devolution? — of the Bad Boys trilogy, inspired by the Alamo Drafthouse’s marathon screening of the franchise last week:
The first Bad Boys is a buddy-cop action-comedy, with an emphasis on comedy, reliant more upon Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s comic chemistry and set pieces than infant Michael Bay’s explosive set-piece shenanigans. It’s more Lethal Weapon than, well, than:
Bad Boys II, action indulgence incarnate. Smith and Lawrence still anchor the affair, but this one’s all about Bay, and — hot take alert — it’s peak Bay (unless you’re partial to Pain & Gain and The Island‘s brand of prestige, elevated Bay over Bay-balls to the Bay-wall Bayhem).
The third, Bad Boys for Life (will the next one — and given the box office returns this weekend, there WILL be a next one; “COMING OUT OF RETIREMENT FOR ONE. LAST. JOB.” — be titled Bad Boys 4 Life?!) is a…drama? A melodrama? A soap opera (“this is some real telenovela shit”)? Serious! Emotions!
AKA: No Bay.
As for the duo’s aforementioned comedic charisma, this time it’s deployed in service of … geriatricism; Mike Lowrey (Smith) clings to his youth by…quoting viral social media memes? And Marcus (Lawrence) is all too impatient to leave his behind in the name of enjoying low-fi comforts of old(er) age with typical grandpa antics (“Wear your glasses!” Chugging Pepto-Bismol, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum).
The joke’s just write themselves.
Speaking of jokes, here’s Will Smith’s decade (not counting cameos), in chronological order: Men in Black 3 (somehow not the worst Men in Black of the decade?!), After Earth, Focus, Concussion, Suicide Squad, Collateral Beauty, Bright, Aladdin, Gemini Man, Spies in Disguise. Yikes.
My favorite of the bunch (the lowest of bars) is probably…After Earth??? M. Night!
The moral of this story: Hollywood, please start doing right by one of our few true Movie Stars.