Bad Boys Movies Ranked

2. Bad Boys 2 (2003)

Eight years after the first film, Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reunite for a sequel that’s longer, madder, and more explosive than the first. They’re still dysfunctional and destroying everything in their path, but this time they’re on the trail of a Cuban drug lord who’s transporting cash and white powder in dead bodies, and he’s willing to do everything to keep his operation going.

Longer, more action-packed, and far more expensive than the first film ($130million in comparison to $19million), Bad Boys 2 somehow finds itself more focused purely through its need to give plot in order to get us to the next major action sequence.

There’s still the back-and-forth between the pair of leads, but the immaturity has been dialled down, if only by a small notch. The choice to include Marcus’s sister (played by Gabrielle Union) in the action, at least tries to give some more personal stakes to the explosions and car crashes. This isn’t to suggest that Bad Boys 2 is a real thinker of a film – it’s still just an excuse to blow stuff up and stage high-speed shoot outs on the Miami streets – neither is it astronomically better than the first film. But, being dumb to the max is what this era of Bad Boys films were made to be, and Bad Boys 2 fully gets that.

1. Bad Boys for Life (2020)

Nearly two decades on from its previous movie, with a spate of films getting the legacy sequel treatment, it was about time that the Bad Boys franchise went in for the same job. As with many legacy sequels, the film puts a focus on the characters, their age, and the ways they’ve changed or not since the previous instalments. Throwing at them a killer who seemingly wants to take out very specific targets, it’s still got your snaps and quips and explosions, but something’s changed: it’s more grown-up.

Many people have nostalgia baked into them for the original two films. Over time, blockbusters have changed. The tone of the first film no longer completely flies by the time 2020 rolls around unless you’re in a Seth Rogen film, and neither do the mindless explosions of the second, unless you’re Michael Bay in which case the ethos of Bad Boys 2 is still very much your ethos. Bad Boys for Life is far more introspective, far more about the collateral damage these heroes cause, far more about Mike and Marcus as characters, as people. It’s not 100%, with the story being one that has been done a hundred times before, and our main villain having power through the main people she controls, but it still tries to be the grown-up in the franchise.

Even if it’s not as raucous as the other entries, Bad Boys for Life is still by far the best made movie in the franchise.

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But which Bad Boys film do you like the most? Are you a purveyor of good filmmaking or a lover of action schlock? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow @thefilmagazine on Facebook and X (Twitter) for updates on more insightful movie lists.

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