Will Smith and Martin Lawrence back in action in "Bad Boys For Life".
It seems like forever since we last saw "Bad Boys II" back in 2003 and it sure took the filmmakers and stars long enough to get together and fulfil the long-gestating third "Bad Boys" movie.
Well, you can blame it on Michael Bay and Will Smith's high salary demands and not to mention the constant scheduling conflicts that prevented the third movie from happening.
Back in 2015, director Joe Carnahan of "Smokin' Aces" (2006) and "The A-Team" (2010) fame was set to replace Michael Bay for the then-titled "Bad Boys III" and "Bad Boys IV", but thanks to constant delays and whatnot, Carnahan eventually left the project and was replaced by Belgian directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah.
Now with "Bad Boys For Life" set to make a comeback after a long hiatus, it's time to look back at the first two "Bad Boys" movies directed by Michael Bay that defined the modern generation of buddy-cop action comedy films.
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in a scene from "Bad Boys".
If you lived through the 90s era, you would've probably come across a little movie called "Bad Boys", which featured then-fresh-faced stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. But interestingly enough, these two aforementioned actors weren't even the first choice during the movie's earlier development. It was actually TV's then-popular "Saturday Night Live" stars Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz and it had a different title back then: It was called "Bulletproof Hearts". Go figure. If that's not enough, Disney was originally the studio that backed the project before they eventually handed it over to Columbia Pictures.
So it was Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and nevertheless it was a risk hiring the two untested stars to lead a buddy-cop action comedy. Way before they became household names in Hollywood, they were primarily known as TV actors whose respective sitcoms including "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air" and "Martin". Then, there's Michael Bay, a name practically unheard of, whose previous resume includes directing commercials and music videos. "Bad Boys" would mark the director's feature-length debut and it was only given a shoestring budget of USD19 million, a far cry from the usual USD100 million+ budget now typically awarded to Michael Bay or a film led by Will Smith. "Bad Boys" went on to become a surprise hit and raked over USD140 million worldwide, launching the movie careers of Smith, Lawrence and Bay.
Tcheky Karyo plays the main antagonist in "Bad Boys".
Part of what made "Bad Boys" such a success is the winning chemistry between Will Smith's Detective Sergeant Mike Lowrey and Martin Lawrence's Detective Sergeant Marcus Burnett. George Gallo's script itself isn't nothing we haven't seen before in the buddy-cop action comedy formula, with the premise basically following Lowrey and Burnett assigned by their captain (a perfectly neurotic Joe Pantoliano) to protect the only eyewitness (Tea Leoni's Julie Mott) to a murder while trying to locate the missing heroin from the Miami Police Department. The movie relies heavily on the hilarious and mostly improvised banters between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, whose respective comedy repertoires are put into good use.
The famous 360-degree rotating shot in "Bad Boys".
Michael Bay, on the other hand, proves to be an ace even for his feature-length debut. He knows how to frame an action sequence with enough style and verve reminiscent of the late Tony Scott's sleek and MTV-style visual palette. And by now, most of us would be familiar with some of Bay's signature shots including the slow-motion parallel walk and a 360-degree camera angle that rotates around both stars (Smith and Lawrence) as they stand up from the ground.
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in a scene from "Bad Boys II".
You know what they said when it comes to making a sequel to a financially-successful first movie, and that is bigger, louder, though not necessarily better (in this case). That pretty much sums up the long-awaited "Bad Boys II", which only arrived an incredible eight years after the first movie. Even the budget was ballooned from a paltry USD19 million to a blockbuster-sized USD130 million production cost.
Like the first movie, the plot - credited to Ron Shelton, Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley - is basically a standard-issue cops vs criminals storyline, with the now-promoted Detective Lieutenant Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Detective Lieutenant Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) tasked to investigate the ecstasy supplies from a Cuban drug cartel led by Jordi Molla's Hector Juan Carlos "Johnny" Tapia.
Jordi Molla in "Bad Boys II".
With a bigger budget at his disposal, returning director Michael Bay goes haywire in this sequel. That includes stretching the typical 2-hour run time to a whopping 147 minutes(!) and made full use of its R-rated rating when it comes to executing some of the movie's gore and graphic violence. The action gets bigger as well and Bay goes all out, with the freeway chase sequence being a prime example. At one point, he also emulates Jackie Chan's insanely-choreographed vehicular stunt work reminiscent of the memorable opening scene in "Police Story" (1985). There's even a shootout scene between Lowrey and Burnett against the drug dealers, where the camera circles the room in a 360-degree view.
Suffice to say, "Bad Boys II" is all about excess. It's as if Michael Bay wanted to live up to his motto of "go big or go home". The sequel was quite a success at the worldwide box office, raking in a respectable USD273.3 million in total.