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How Bad Boys Found Explosive Success

January 29th, 2019How Bad Boys Found Explosive Success

The Bad Boys are back! Seventeen years after their last fiery team up, Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett reunite to take on a drug cartel menacing Miami. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star in BAD BOYS FOR LIFE, coming to AMC® on January 17, 2020.

The risk-prone detectives are no longer top of the heap in the Miami PD. The rogue tactics of Mike and Marcus go against the playbook of a much-vaunted young police unit also tracking the cartel. Will the two cops blow up their own careers along with the bad guys? Franchise newcomers Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi have the answer. They sit in the directors chair(s) for this third stop on a 20-year journey. Here’s how the BAD BOYS films found explosive success.

Bad Boys on the Scene

In 1994, BAD BOYS might have seemed like a risk. Director Michael Bay had only made music videos and commercials. Stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence were primarily known for TV comedies. Their shows, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Martin,” were huge hits, but hardly proofs of concept for a high-octane action movie.

But BAD BOYS was the brainchild of producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, creators of ’80s megahits like TOP GUN and BEVERLY HILLS COP. The film was originally written for former “SNL” stars Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz, so comedians weren’t left-field casting picks. And Michael Bay proved to be an inspired choice as director. He amplified the Miami heat and cranked up the action through his soon-to-be signature style, all while encouraging his stage-trained stars to improvise.

BAD BOYS is a visceral blast that gave audiences something new from actors they already loved. Its success turned Will Smith into a movie star. It kickstarted Michael Bay’s career as a feature film director and led to a long-lasting working relationship with Jerry Bruckheimer. Critics didn’t love it, but BAD BOYS earned a dedicated fan base. Those fans wanted more.

Sequel Ecstasy

The way things work today, many sequels go into development as soon as opening weekend receipts are in. BAD BOYS II had to wait eight years. All that time was good for the film. When they reunited for the 2003 release, Smith and Lawrence were stronger actors and Bay was a more seasoned director. Gabrielle Union signed on to play Syd Burnett, an undercover DEA agent who is hiding her relationship with Mike Lowrey from her brother, Marcus.

BAD BOYS II is like the first movie injected with experimental steroids. This isn’t just a sequel; it’s a cop-movie kaiju massive enough to destroy cities. Everything about the sequel is huge. It’s got three car chases, a maze of subplots, enough violence to make a special forces team recoil, and layers of confidence and style. Michael Bay has made a career out of making movies as if they were theme park rides, and BAD BOYS II is the first time he really nailed the idea.

There’s one downside to making a sequel as ragingly vivid as BAD BOYS II: It’s almost impossible to follow. The best solution was, appropriately, the one that worked once before. We had to wait.

Exploring New Territory

Michael Bay moved on after BAD BOYS II, but Sony and the stars steadily worked on ideas for a third film. Other efforts kept the idea alive in the meantime, too. “L.A.’s Finest,” for example, will bring Union’s character to television, and also to Los Angeles. Syd has a new job as an LAPD detective and a new partner, played by Jessica Alba.

The show will prime audiences for BAD BOYS FOR LIFE, currently set to open on January 17, 2020. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return as Detective Lieutenant Mike Lowrey and Detective Lieutenant Marcus Burnett. Joe Pantoliano is also back to play Captain Conrad Howard once again. They’ll be joined by a host of new recruits, including Paola Nuñez, Vanessa Hudgens, Charles Melton, DJ Khaled and Nicky Jam. Jacob Scipio plays the cartel leader, Armando Armas, who has Mike Lowrey in his crosshairs.

BAD BOYS FOR LIFE comes to AMC theatres on January 17, 2020.

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