It seems incredible to think, but the first Bad Boys was released so long ago that Will Smith was still starring in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air at the time. Not only did it mark the actor’s ascent to the very top of the Hollywood A-list throughout the rest of the decade, but it was also the feature debut of Michael Bay, and it would be fair to say that the two have done pretty well for themselves over the last quarter of a century.
In terms of modern Hollywood franchises, three movies in 25 years is virtually unheard of without a reboot or two, with this weekend’s debut of Bad Boys for Life marking the return of Smith and Martin Lawrence for the first time in 17 years. The third installment looked like it may never escape from development hell after cycling through numerous writers and directors over the last decade, with Belgian filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah being the ones to finally bring it to the big screen.
Early reactions to the movie have been incredibly positive, too, with many remarking that Bay’s absence turns out to be a good thing, although Bad Boys II still remains a cult favorite among many fans of the action genre based entirely on how loud, preposterous and completely and utterly insane it is.
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In a recent interview to promote Bad Boys for Life, Smith explained why it took so long for the project to come together, and his answer marked a refreshing change of pace in an age where blockbuster sequels are being churned out with as little turnaround as possible.
“I just didn’t want to wreck the franchise. I felt like I had other sequels in my career where I felt like I didn’t land it. But with this one, I just wanted to protect the franchise. I wanted to make sure that the story was right, that it had something to say, that it was funny, and that it deserved to be made again. Not just, ‘People like sequels, so let’s just do a sequel’.”
Given that outside of the Bad Boys franchise the only sequels that the 51 year-old has appeared in have been Men in Black follow-ups, it seems obvious that he didn’t feel like his returns as Agent J were up to scratch. However, with Bad Boys for Life set to top the domestic box office this weekend in the wake of solid reviews, the long-awaited trilogy-closer looks set to be worth the wait.