Bad Boys Movies Ranked

Before he became known for slapping people at the Oscars, Will Smith was a massive box office draw. Off the back of his success as the Fresh Prince, he went on a tear in Hollywood, starring in films such as Independence Day, Men in Black, and Enemy of the State. He became a massive A-lister in a very short period of time.

One of the keys to his success was teaming up with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who would partner Will Smith and Martin Lawrence together in the buddy-cop blockbuster franchise Bad Boys, starting in 1995. Smith would play Mike Lowrey and Lawrence would play Marcus Burnett, two narcotics detectives on a Miami squad. Directed by Michael Bay, a massive box office draw in the nineties on his own tear of major action films such as The Rock and Armageddon, the film managed to make $141million at the box office on a $19million budget. Eight years later, the sequel would come out, and the success of the franchise, even by this point, was plain to see: only four years after the second film was released in 2003, Hot Fuzz would use Bad Boys 2 as one of the major references for Nick Frost’s Danny Butterman, who just wants ‘proper action.’

2020 saw the franchise get the reboot treatment with Bad Boys for Life hitting the screens just before the pandemic hit, managing to become the fourth highest-grossing film of the year (not surprising, all things considered), and the third highest-grossing January release ever. With Bad Boys: Ride or Die, released in 2024, becoming a similarly as important box office hit, there are currently four movies of the two squabbling detectives asking what will happen when they come for you. In this edition of Ranked, we at The Film Magazine have revisited each Bad Boys movie to let you know exactly where to go to get your action comedy fix. These are the Bad Boys Movies Ranked.

4. Bad Boys (1995)

The original film in the franchise untied our two protagonists and put them on the trail of a massive drug snatch (of $100million in heroin) from inside the police vault. Juggling their family lives and trying to keep a witness safe whilst maintaining their identities pretending to be each other, it’s a 90s action comedy all the way to its core, with the flow, the action sequences, the aesthetics, and the tone, being the perfect representation of the genre’s zeitgeist at the time.

The first film managed to hit a chord with audiences, but nearly thirty years later it’s obvious that it is still a mixed bag.

Startling moments of blood and gore near the beginning try to set this off as a more mature film, and thankfully there are the odd points of actual serious detective work going on. The action sequences are impressive, and the chemistry between Smith and Lawrence is exceptional from the get-go. The switch of identities is a fun idea, giving some good comedic moments and misunderstandings, allowing the main actors to go at it with their performances. There are some missteps, however. The dialogue gets old after a while, keeping just above immature at best, and our main villain isn’t the most threating villain ever put to screen. It’s a decently fun time with a big bowl of popcorn, and the pacing keeps it from being a wall-to-wall explosion-fest, thankfully, but it could also shave ten minutes off the runtime.

3. Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024)

Bad Boys Ride or Die Review

The most recent instalment goes full John Wick for half of the film, throwing Mike and Marcus out into the wilderness, framed and set up against the police, the FBI, and every gang in Miami with an interest in the $5million bounty on their heads. Mike is now married, Marcus has had a near-death experience complete with surreal hallucinations, and the Captain has been framed for embezzlement in connection with the cartels over the past decades. Can they clear their names, or will the Captain’s daughter take out Armando, Mike’s son?

Taking its place in the modern day by becoming a full-blown action thriller, with comedic moments thrown in for good measure, Ride or Die is a fun time at the movies.

The performances are good (even if Lawrence’s Marcus Burnett is now a caricature of himself), and the action sequences decent, if uninspired and put together in the editing suite rather than at the hands of the directors. There is a disconnect, however, between the comedy and the action, between the intentions and the end result. It looks big but never manages to properly pull off the serious moments it is going for. When it works, it’s at least trying something new. When it doesn’t, it’s back to fart jokes that don’t land and talking about being a donkey in a previous life. Good job that there’s more focus on the action than the comedy; it saves the film’s skin.

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