Movie Reviews

Bad Boys 4 Has Already Repeated The Franchise's Best $426 Million Trick

Summary

  • Bad Boys: Ride or Die sets out to continue the success of its predecessor through new directors and fresh ideas.
  • Adil and Bilall brought a balance of action and comedy, improving the franchise’s tone and performance.
  • While a positive reception is anticipated for the upcoming film, the directing duo must avoid past mistakes for success.



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Bad Boys: Ride Or Die will look to build on the series’ successful legacy, and the 2024 sequel has a great chance of doing so thanks to one particular trick employed by the previous installment. Starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as the ever-present Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, Bad Boys: Ride Or Die has a new template to follow, after Bad Boys For Life reinvigorated the franchise. However, while details like story and script are important, perhaps the most significant factor – and one it shares with the 2020 hit – is what’s going on behind the camera.


Much of what makes Bad Boys: Ride Or Die an exciting prospect is the positivity around the third movie in the franchise, Bad Boys For Life. After a long hiatus between installments, Bad Boys For Life marked a return to form for the series – not only becoming the most financially successful Bad Boys movie, but also earning the best reviews of the series. Securing 76% positive reviews (via Rotten Tomatoes), Bad Boys For Life established a new tone for the franchise, moving it past the empty spectacle of previous installments. Repeating the trick won’t be easy, but one detail gives Bad Boys: Ride Or Die every chance.


Bad Boys: Ride Or Die Is Bringing Back The Previous Movie’s Directors


On the surface, there was little to suggest that Bad Boys For Life would be such a success, relative to the first two films in the franchise. Both Smith and Lawrence were just as prominent as ever, and the story was hardly revolutionary. However, where the film really broke tradition with Bad Boys and Bad Boys II was in replacing original director Michael Bay with the new combination of Adil and Bilall. Bringing a fresh perspective and new ideas, the duo managed to rejuvenate what had historically been an underperforming action franchise – at least critically. Their return for Bad Boys: Ride Or Die, therefore, bodes well for the movie’s chances.

Budget

Box Office

Rotten Tomatoes

Director

Bad Boys (1995)

$19 million

$141.4 million

43%

Michael Bay

Bad Boys II (2003)

$130 million

$273.3 million

23%

Michael Bay

Bad Boys For Life (2020)

$90 million

$426.5 million

76%

Adil and Bilall

How Adil And Bilall Improved Bad Boys For Life


The key to Bad Boys For Life‘s success lay in simultaneously playing to the franchise’s strengths, such as spectacle and the combination of action and comedy, while also purging some of the previous films’ more problematic elements. Critics generally focused on the impressive action sequences, as well as the effervescent personalities of its stars. According to the Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus, for instance, the movie succeeded thanks to “action and a double helping of leading-man charisma” – a balance Michael Bay’s movies had often struggled to strike.

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…the film also marked a clear move away from some hypermasculine traits that had previously tended toward toxicity


While using Smith and Lawrence to enhance the action is one of Bad Boys For Life‘s biggest strengths, the film also marked a clear move away from some hypermasculine traits that had previously tended toward toxicity. In a 2021 review for NME, for instance, critic Paul Bradshaw summed it up neatly, commenting:

Smith is Smith, Lawrence is Lawrence, and they both look really cool when they shoot people, which is exactly what you want out of a Bad Boys movie. Unless, of course, you want a load of rampant misogyny as well, in which case, go watch Bad Boys II again.

The occasionally off-putting tone of the early Bad Boys movies can’t be solely laid at Michael Bay’s door. However, it’s telling that Bad Boys: Ride Or Die is explicitly looking to continue the new approach established in Bad Boys For Life, rather than regressing back to the franchise’s polarizing previous entries.


Adil And Bilall Need To Avoid The Bad Boys Franchise’s Biggest Mistakes

Thanks to their work on Bad Boys For Life, there’s every reason to think that Adil and Bilall can further vindicate the franchise’s decision to change directors and make a success of Bad Boys: Ride Or Die. The movie’s first trailer, for instance, suggests a continuation of the more approachable tone previously established and has been generally well-received by fans. However, despite these reasons to be positive, there are warnings from the franchise’s own past that the directing duo would be well-advised to heed.

The biggest worry is that the last time a director returned to the Bad Boys series, the results were critically disappointing. Whereas Michael Bay’s original Bad Boys movie received mixed reviews and was a breakout box office success, Bad Boys II was regarded extremely poorly and made a somewhat mediocre $273 million against a significantly inflated budget. Given how much they have already changed the franchise’s fortunes, it’s unlikely that Adil and Bilall will preside over a similar drop-off. However, the precedent nonetheless means that Bad Boys: Ride Or Die is not a guaranteed success.


Source: NME

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