We might absolutely be into the new year, nay the new decade, but as far as Hollywood releases in Pakistan are concerned, they’re following the pattern set in recent years, and reaffirmed over the Bollywood ban of the past 12 months.
Of course, this pattern, in turn, is a function of the trend that Hollywood itself has increasingly witnessed in terms of remakes, over-expanding franchises and the never ending sequels.
Even so, despite this week’s release falling squarely in the above given description of prolonged series and commodified sequels, it has turned out to be quite the opposite of what many other, more illustrious, franchises have given us.
Bad Boys for Life is the third and self-avowed final installment of the Bad Boys franchise, which for all intents and purposes has spawned three generations – spread out over two millennia, two centuries, four decades and 26 years to be precise.
Bad Boys, a creation of George Gallo, came out in 1995, with the reception it received prompting the 2003 sequel Bad Boys III. Based on the exploits of Miami Police Department detectives Michael Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, played respectively by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, the Bad Boys films merged action and humour to create a niche for the franchise. The second installment even prompted a video game back in 2004: Bad Boys: Miami Takedown.
Amidst the success of the first two films, the cast and crew – building on their many successes elsewhere as well – rose to such prominence and fame that it, ironically, became a hindrance in the production of the third installment.
Will Smith, especially, and Michael Bay – whose 6 Underground we reviewed last week, and who directed the first two Bad Boys film – had grown too big for the franchise to squeeze into the same project by the end of the decade before last.
Given that there could not have been any form of Bad Boys without Michael Lowrey, Bay made way for Belgian duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who helm Bad Boys III – or Bad Boys for Life.
‘For Life’ is the ideal suffix for the third installment, especially for the franchise’s dedicated fans – and even for the neutrals, given that Bad Boys III has managed to achieve what many sequels in recent times have failed abysmally in: leaving on a high.
Indeed, even if one gauges the three films from the conditions of their three eras and the three different sets of circumstances, Bad Boys for Life might still turn out to be, in many ways, the pick of the trio.
While for many other franchises, this might be an excuse to dig further into the brand and extract more dough out of it, one hopes Bad Boys – and everyone affiliated with it – would see the worth in finishing a memorable journey on a high.
In Bad Boys for Life, Mike and Marcus converge on to the crime scene, after having diverged in contrasting directions over the past 17 years, thanks to the wife of a former foe. With this setting, the film is as much a celebration of the reunion, as it is a festivity of nostalgia associated with a franchise that has its own unique spot in the pantheon of cop flicks.
It is the perfect tonic for you to take alongside, en route to the 1990s or 2000s, to a time when you might have been aspiring action hero in your imagination, or a video games aficionado who enjoyed setting the streets of Miami alight – on repeat.
Perhaps even more crucially, Bad Boys for Life is a lesson for those wanting to commodify the childhood memories of many of us in the shape of lazily executed sequels. Yes, we’ll buy a ticket every time you make a new film out of our favourite 1980s and ‘90s franchises – but we’d really appreciate it if you put as much thought into the screenplay as you do in the merchandising.