There’s a big problem standing in the way of success for Bad Boys For Lif3. On the one hand, this long passing of time allows it to be put in the glossy eyed nostalgia camp. That will bring a degree of anticipation and box office receipts, just as long as they don’t over budget the thing. If you shoot a Bad Boys film for roughly the budget (after taking inflation into account) of the original, you’ll make a tidy profit here. If they spend 150 million smackers, they’re going to struggle and be praying for worldwide impact. If they go for hard R, they automatically alienate the booming Asian market. Is Europe that excited about a new Bad Boys? Not particularly. So everything rests on the US gross for me. A decent return on a moderate budget is the way to go, because I honestly don’t see there being wide-ranging appeal, particularly when 2020 will undoubtedly bring more Marvel and a host of more ‘mainstream’ alternatives.
The Bad Boys appeal is lost in 1995. It’s something from a bygone era. There are young, fresh and vibrant black film-makers and actors establishing themselves now. Smith and Lawrence, in their 50s now, have lost all relevance. Can anyone, even Lawrence himself, name a film he’s done in the last five years? I can’t. Smith’s career has hit the skids as a big screen commodity. The popularity of Bright in the streaming market is difficult to gauge, while success with Suicide Squad rests more on the material’s appeal, and ensemble, than Smith fandom. Some actors bristle with zing and energy when they’re younger. It’s the reason Eddie Murphy’s work in the 80’s is so full of life and spark, and age and success saw his appeal (and on screen power) decline throughout this century. The Fresh Prince himself, has had the same. Where he should be perhaps focusing on re-establishing himself as a character actor, or strong dramatic leading man (because as he’s proved all too rarely) he has the ability. Whilst actors and film-makers of colour strive to prove that there’s more to them than rehashes of Boyz n the Hood, Bad Boys etc, a revisit to a dated formula seems counter intuitive.
There’s the possibility the formula could be updated, improved and modernised but you would imagine it to be unlikely in a Bruckheimer production. I just don’t hear the clamour for this. I don’t see in the initial leaked (and tired sounding) outline any trace of stepping out of the 90’s with this. Of course, there’s a certain danger in doing that, where you alienate your fan-base in order to try and gain wider appeal. If you’re unsuccessful in that and alienate your core audience and lose them, you’ve got a bomb on your hands. Adding fresh impetus and creative juice to pre-existing formula can attain a lot of success, particularly when you look at something like Creed, which re-invigorated the Rocky formula. If the two fresh, aspiring directors of Bad Boys For Lif3 can achieve similar, then the film might surprise people. Introducing character depth would be something entirely new for the franchise though. There are avenues to do that certainly, and ability in the leads to portray it (particularly Smith).
Time will tell, but is Bad Boys For Lif3 destined to fail? Does the world really need to see the continued adventures of Mike and Marcus? Did you wake up this morning with a Power Ranger in your ass? Let us know in the comments below…
A version of this article was published in December 2019.
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has three features due out on DVD/VOD in 2019 and a number of shorts hitting festivals. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see… http://tomjolliffe.wordpress.com/films/