Bad Boys For Life directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah think there is “at least one more story to tell” in a potential fourth outing for Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s Miami cops.
Smith and Lawrence reprised their lead roles in what remains the highest-grossing movie of 2020 with its $419m (£342m) global haul — 17 years after Bad Boys II.
Adil told Yahoo Movies UK that he would be keen for a sequel to explore the world of the highly-trained AMMO team, which plays a key role in assisting Mike and Marcus with the third movie’s investigation.
The 31-year-old filmmaker said it would be a “pleasure” to helm another Bad Boys story.
He added: “We fell in love with those characters and also the experience of making the movie.
“We feel like you can do even a little bit more and you can also do a bit more with the AMMO team. I think they’re really cool characters.
“I think there’s at least one more story to tell. One last, last time.”
Bilall said the duo is liaising with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and writer Chris Bremner on the “super exciting” fourth movie, with a script on the way soon.
Adil and Bilall are also attached to the upcoming Beverly Hills Cop movie, which will see Eddie Murphy return to the role of Axel Foley for Netflix.
“When I was a kid, Beverly Hills Cop II was my favourite movie,” said Adil.
He added: “I watched it all the time and it triggered me to become a super big Eddie Murphy fan. Obviously after Bad Boys came out, it was a very Beverly Hills Cop kind of movie.
“It was the first job that we got. Eventually it didn’t pan out and that’s why we eventually did Bad Boys.”
Read more: Murphy hints movie career will soon be over
Adil confirmed the Beverly Hills Cop project is still in their future, stating that a script is currently in the works.
Read the full interview with Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah about making Bad Boys for Life, Michael Bay’s unsurprisingly foul-mouthed advice and why they actually listen to what film critics say...
Yahoo Movies UK: One of the craziest things about this film is that, as we speak, it’s the highest-grossing film of 2020. What’s that like for you guys?
Adil El Arbi: Well, it’s by default! It’s a big honour. In the pre-corona time, we were wondering how long we’d stay as the most successful movie of 2020. It was like a funny joke to say that maybe we’d be the most successful for a week or two weeks. And now, it’s for months and months. It’s a big honour, but it’s also by default in extraordinary circumstances.
The fans have been waiting so long for a Bad Boys sequel, with lots of delays and different people being involved. Did you guys feel the pressure of living up to the expectations of those fans?
Bilall Fallah: Most definitely. I couldn’t sleep every night. You’re dreaming of making the movie and then, one day, you’ve got the job and it becomes the real deal. The pressure was on from day one. But we had, of course, Will Smith, Martin Lawrence and Jerry Bruckheimer next to us. Having them and their trust and their confidence in us helped us a lot to go through it and to really do our best job.
No one knows these characters like Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Did they just slip back into it on day one? Was it easy for them?
BF: It was just like that. From the first shot on the first day, it was like “oh s***, it’s Mike and Marcus”. The chemistry was there. That’s something magical. I can’t explain it.
Does that make your job a lot easier, if the actors are just on point from the first shot?
AEA: Yeah. If you work with huge stars that have so much experience — and we’re just like newbies who were kids when they made those movies — then it’s very comfortable to have people that are so professional. There’s something magical that happens when you put these two actors together. You put the camera on and the chemistry is there instantly. You barely have to direct them.
The direction of the Bad Boys films is such a big part of it because you’re coming off the back of a Michael Bay film and he has such a specific style. Was it difficult for you to come in and put your own stamp on it?
AEA: In the beginning, we wanted obviously to make a Michael Bay homage and an homage to the two movies. The first one and the second one are very different from each other and the first is a much smaller kind of movie.
Read more: Ben Hardy says Bay is “a Marmite filmmaker”
But only Michael Bay can do Michael Bay. You can try to emulate and try to do homages, but there’s only one man who can really do his style. With the help of Jerry Bruckheimer, of course, we tried to blend a little of his style into the movie so there was something consistent. But at the same time, we had our strength and our style that we put into it and thanks to the producers, there was really a nice balance at the end of the day.
And how important was he? Was he there to help you through it? As well as his little cameo appearance.
BF: Well he was making his movie, 6 Underground, so he was in a total focus. The first day we met him was on the shooting day itself [for his cameo] and we were kind of scared. You know Michael Bay as a hardcore director and he yells, so we were scared but when we met him, he was super nice. He directed his own shot himself. The only thing he said is “don’t f*** up my baby”.
You guys came off smaller films right into this blockbuster franchise that people love and you’re working with some of the biggest stars on the planet. How did you get that straight in your head that you were making this movie with a lot riding on it?
AEA: When we were shooting the movie, sometimes it was very surreal to imagine. It was like a dream we had. You had Will, you had Martin, you had Jerry Bruckheimer, you had huge sets, you had Bad Boys For Life on the clapperboard and our names on there. It was like it was a dream and like we don’t belong there or fit there.
You start to really freak out because you’re working with all of these superstars and, as a kid, you were fans of them. You don’t let it go too long because you’ve got to focus and do your job. Once in a while, we would freak out like fanboys and then we would just go to work because otherwise we would not be able to complete the movie.
There are lots of really bold choices here as far as the storytelling goes that I think will surprise fans. Were there any restrictions put upon you, or were you allowed to just go for it?
BF: There was already a script when we got the job, so a lot of those elements you see in the movie were already in the script. The reason we thought this was the perfect Bad Boys For Life and the perfect third instalment was that it goes deeper into the characters and it’s more emotional.
The producers and Will and Martin wanted us to do our thing too. We had the freedom of really going for our stuff, but still respecting and having a balance with what is in the DNA of the previous two movies. It’s always a balance.
Jerry Bruckheimer has said in the last week or so that there’s a script being written for a Bad Boys 4. Is that something you are involved with, or would like to be involved with?
AEA: Sure, it would be a pleasure. We fell in love with those characters and also the experience of making the movie. We feel like you can do even a little bit more and you can also do a bit more with the AMMO team. I think they’re really cool characters. I think there’s at least one more story to tell. One last, last time.
As far as you guys know, where are you with it? Are you attached or is it still happening far away from you?
BF: No, we’ve been talking with Jerry and with the writer, Chris Bremner. We’ve been talking and giving some ideas for the fourth movie and now we’re waiting on a treatment or a script. It’s super exciting.
Another project you’ve been talked about for is the Beverly Hills Cop movie. I don’t know how much you can tell me about where that is and what an honour it would be to work with another icon like Eddie Murphy?
AEA: Well, when I was a kid, Beverly Hills Cop II was my favourite movie. I watched it all the time and it triggered me to become a super big Eddie Murphy fan. Obviously after Bad Boys came out, it was a very Beverly Hills Cop kind of movie. It was the first job that we got. Eventually it didn’t pan out and that’s why we eventually did Bad Boys.
Read more: Vintage footage from Beverly Hills Cop
But to be able to work with Eddie. The way we look at Will, like “oh my God, this is Will Smith,” he looks at Eddie Murphy the same way.
How far down the process are you with that? Is it written?
AEA: They’re still working on a script.
Well I’m really excited to see how that turns out. As a final question, did you guys ever imagine this Bad Boys movie would go down as well as it has, not only with fans but with critics as well?
AEA: No. We thought we’d be commercially pretty successful — not the huge success it eventually had — but with the critics, we were sure we were gonna get massacred. So that was a big surprise.
And were you afraid of what critics would say? Does it bother you?
AEA: As filmmakers, we would also consider ourselves film students. So we read all of the critics and we enjoy reading even the bad reviews because we feel like we’re learning something. We try to become better.
But we did not expect that it would be so well-received. It’s an action-comedy, it’s a commercial movie, it’s not a critics’ movie. But it was nice to see that. We made a lot of mistakes and some critics were right, but it only motivates us to do an even better job in the future.
It has been absolutely wonderful to speak to you guys and I’ll see you on Bad Boys 4!
Bad Boys For Life is available to download and keep now and on Blu-ray and DVD from 25 May.