It’s been over a decade since we last checked in with Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey, and over two decades since we were first introduced to them, but the Bad Boys movies still stand among the most popular action movies ever made.
The critics have never been too impressed with Michael Bay’s ‘roided-up buddy cop franchise, but audiences have really taken to them. They have cool one-liners, like “This s*** just got real,” and mega-sized action sequences that get increasingly ridiculous. So, a lot of moviegoers are excited that Martin Lawrence and Will Smith are currently working on a threequel. Here is Everything We Know (So Far) About Bad Boys For Life.
10 Michael Bay isn’t directing
Michael Bay directed both previous Bad Boys movies, but he’s not coming back to helm this one. He’s too busy overseeing the Transformers franchise, directing Ryan Reynolds in action thriller 6 Underground, and developing his long-gestating adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson’s novel Robopocalypse.
Instead, Bad Boys for Life will be directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who have mounted episodes of FX’s drug drama Snowfall and have been hired for Beverly Hills Cop 4. Bad Boys II helped to define “Bayhem,” which permeated throughout early 2000s action cinema, but hopefully, the new directors will be able to recapture that particular brand of cinematic carnage.
9 Martin Lawrence says having no Bay is fine
Martin Lawrence has said that not having Michael Bay in the director’s chair hasn’t affected how much Bad Boys for Life fits in line with the other Bad Boys movies. When the comedian was asked if Bay’s departure from the threequel made it feel like something was missing, he said, “Well, it’s not so strange, because Bilall [Fallah] and Adil [El Arbi] are doing a great job. It’s just different directors, but we’re still going to bring you that Bad Boys stuff.”
Jerry Bruckheimer is still producing, and he’s responsible for getting as much money as possible pumped into the gigantic action set pieces, which are really what people come for.
8 It’ll be released on January 17, 2020
Bad Boys for Life is set to be released on January 17, 2020, so we only have a few short months to wait before we see Will Smith and Martin Lawrence back in action, bickering in sports cars while they ruthlessly pursue drug lords.
On that date, it’ll face some stiff competition from Robert Downey, Jr.’s reboot of the Dr. Dolittle franchise, while the DCEU’s female-fronted antihero ensemble Birds of Prey and the upcoming reboot of The Grudge horror franchise are also being released around the same time. Despite heavy competition, a new Bad Boys movie won’t have much trouble finding an audience.
7 The plot revolves around a drug cartel
The plot of Bad Boys for Life will reportedly revolve around a drug lord named Armando Armas, whose cartel the Miami cops are trying to bring down. At some point in the movie – presumably the point where someone will utter the words, “This s*** just got real!” – Armas will be sent by his mother to kill Mike, the one played by Will Smith.
This is in line with the Bad Boys formula: the cops go after a bad guy, the bad guy comes after someone close to the cops, s*** gets real, and a jumbo-sized action sequence rounds out the movie.
6 Filming has wrapped
Bad Boys for Life began filming earlier this year, back in January, which was commemorated with a social media post by Will Smith. The wrap was also celebrated earlier this year, back in April, in a social media post by Martin Lawrence. Smith got to announce that filming had begun, while Lawrence got to announce that filming had wrapped.
That seems like a fair way to divvy it up. The reason why there’s such a huge gap between filming and release is that these big-budget Hollywood movies take a long time to edit with all the CG visual effects. Plus, the studio needs time to market it.
5 Captain Howard will be back
Aside from Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s characters, one of the most memorable faces from the Bad Boys franchise is Captain Howard, played by Joe Pantoliano. Sopranos star Pantoliano took the tired, overdone cliché of the angry police captain – the stock character that appears in every buddy cop movie and every action movie ever made – and gave us a whiny, screechy, little version of that to subvert it.
It was one of the few smart genre subversions in the Bad Boys movies (they mostly conform to genre conventions, but in a big, brash way that makes it a lot of fun). Thankfully, Pantoliano will be back as Howard for the threequel.
4 A couple of famous faces are joining the cast
There are a few returning actors from the previous two Bad Boys movies in Bad Boys for Life, but there are also some high-profile new cast members joining the threequel. DJ Khaled, for one, has been cast to play a character named Manny the Butcher.
He announced it on social media with the caption: “Blessed to announce that I will be joining @WillSmith and @MartinLawrence in the cast of @BadBoys #BadBoysForLifemovie!” High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens has also been cast in an undisclosed role in the third Bad Boys film. Lesser-known actors Charles Melton and Alexander Ludwig have also been cast.
3 The original director left due to creative differences with Will Smith
Joe Carnahan, the director of 2010’s The A-Team, was originally attached to direct Bad Boys for Life, but he has explained that he left because of creative differences with Will Smith:
“I just know myself, man. And I thought what we were doing at that point was the law of diminishing returns. I wasn’t servicing the story that I was really excited about telling, that the studio had green-lit. And again, this isn’t to throw shade at Will [Smith] – it’s your face on the poster, it’s your name on the poster, you need to do things the way you want them done.” The upside to this is that Smith clearly has a vision for how he wants the movie to be, and we have to trust that.
2 Will Smith and Martin Lawrence binge-watched the other movies to prepare for shooting
Over the weekend before they were due to start shooting Bad Boys for Life, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence binge-watched the first two to get into the Bad Boys spirit. It was a pretty good idea. Firstly, it gave them an opportunity to get back into their characters, since they hadn’t played them in 16 years.
Secondly, it gave them an opportunity to reconnect as a pair of bros with a Netflix-and-chill session of their own movies. By the time they finished those movies and showed up to the set of Bad Boys for Life, they must’ve been perfectly prepared to return to those roles.
1 Michael Bay thinks the Bad Boys franchise has an expiration date
Despite the fact that he’s left the franchise after directing two Bad Boys movies, Michael Bay has still advised on where it should go, saying it has an expiration date. In the initial announcement, third and fourth Bad Boys movies to be shot back-to-back were promised.
The fourth one has since been dropped, so we’ll just see how the third one does. Bay thinks it shouldn’t go on too long: “Pretty soon, they’re going to be old boys, okay? Pretty soon, they’re going to be retired cops instead of active-duty cops. It’s taken a long time to get that thing going, and I’m not involved in getting it going.”