Movie Misfires: Bad Boys for Life (2020)
There’s a lot of action...and a lot of gunfire...yep.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
If you want to know what its like to watch two directors do their damndest to emulate the stylings of Michael Bay circa 1995 with two middle-aged dudes occupying the starring roles in a purposely dumb action movie that’s also a sequel to a movie that came out a full 17 years ago—then Bad Boys for Life is for you!
Seriously, this movie was pretty tough to get through, and we’re talking quarantine viewing here.
It started off like you’d expect and like the previous two installments (Bad Boys – 1995, Bad Boys II – 2003), which I liked well enough for what they were—but when it’s revealed that the extraordinarily dangerous vehicle acrobatics performed by Will Smith as Mike Lowry in his Porsche, careeining through Miami with police squad cars seemingly in pursuit is revealed to actually be an effort to get Marcus (Martin Lawrence) to the hospital for the birth of his granddaughter, I almost turned it off right there.
Not only that, but a few minutes later, they pull the whole “pan across a bunch of tearful people in suits and nice dresses outside making it look like a funeral but, surprise, we pull back and they’re actually at a wedding!” I think I saw this gag for the first time in Grumpier Old Men, where it was actually funny.
What’s the plot about? I dunno. I really don’t, and I’m not looking it up. If you want to, go ahead.
From what I gathered, there’s a bad guy or a group of bad guys assassinating cops and judges all over Miami. Mike is the first target, and while he’s shot twice in the chest, he ultimately survives after a long recovery—or a short one as the crisis is still going on when he’s back on his feet?
Shocker, they win out in the end. But I will give the movie some props for killing off the only side character that has been in all three films.
However, the freakin’ “twist” they throw into the last act is so lame that it nullifies all that. I won’t even spoil it for you. I will say, if you’ve seen the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode where the gang is in a focus group for a new action movie sequel, you can guess it.
Then we get to the P90 / 5.7mm nonsense. We learn from the tech nerds in the new AMMO division …it stands for Advanced Miami Metro Operations…I think—that the rounds dug out of Mike’s chest (which are perfectly pristine I might add) were the super special 5.7x28mm round “for the P90 Herstal.” Then they say the bullets are subsonic and custom made, and they also say they can punch a hole through anything.
So there’s a lot going on here. It seems like they took the old idea that 5.7 rounds can punch holes in body armor like so much Styrofoam and ran with it a bit, which is sort of true. Yes the round was developed at the request of NATO to perform better against body armor than the 9mm. The original SS90 cartridge, could penetrate a NATO CRISAT vest or a Level IIIA Kevlar vest at a range of 200 meters when fired from an FN P90.
Can most 5.7 rounds do this? No. And they don’t perform nearly the same when fired from a handgun. In the movie, the cops and the bad guys act like these are those magic 9mm rounds from Lethal Weapon 3—the “cop killers” that could punch holes through the SCOOP OF A BULLDOZER!
Then they smashed this together with the term “subsonic,” though no suppressor are used and that would seem counterintuitive for custom rounds that are supposed to punch holes in hard things.
The 5.7 is not really known as a reloader’s cartridge. And with the price of the factory ammo, if reloaders could work with it, they would. Hardcore reloader friends tell me the cases are very thin and the shoulder of the bottle neck is pretty fragile, especially in once-fired brass—you are dealing with a necked case about the size of a .22 Hornet, after all. It’s really easy to crush or deform them in a reloading press, making for hazardous reloads. So the movie picked literally the worst round to make custom loads for.
Then there’s the weirdness of referring to the gun that fires them as the “P90 Herstal.”
The P90 is a personal defense weapon (PDW) that was designed by FN Herstal along with the 5.7x28mm round for the same NATO request. But nobody calls it a “P90 Herstal.” Ever. If anything, people call it an FN P90, if not just plain P90.
And you know why it’s called the P90? Because it was designed in 1990. The most high tech, cool bad guy gun they could come up with for this action extravaganza is 30 years old and has been in shooter video games since the earliest days of CounterStrike.
Beyond all that, the movie is filled with the typical Bad Boys over-the-top crazy shootouts that defy physics, logic, and reality—and sometimes that can be fun, or it can be really boring. Unfortunately, this one falls into the latter category and without Michael Bay’s direction, it wasn’t even entertaining. Say what you want about his movies, the dude knows how to film big action sequences and explosions. This felt like an apprentice’s work.
Every bad guy has a machine gun, cops can shoot a bunch of dudes in a battle that leaves 20 bodies on the ground, and not only is it not a big deal, but no paper work required. Also the heroes can fire a machine gun from a moving motorcycle on a crowded Miami street and quip about their bad aim without ever once wondering where all those bullets ended up.
And also: damn—Martin Lawrence did not age well. Will Smith looks like…well, Will Smith, while Martin looks very much like a grandpa, just like his character. They play this up for jokes, of course, but maybe I just wasn’t in a laughing mood.
The P90 is a gun, and it is chambered for the 5.7x28mm cartridge. That’s…that’s about all they got right.
Everything about the firearms in this movies is over-the-top silly, and the details they try to get into about the guns are even sillier.