Bad Boys for Life brought up something that’s been nagging me since last month. Basically, it’s a lingering thought after I walked out of my first ScreenX experience (the perfectly enjoyable Ford v. Ferrari) was how this setup would work for a traditional action film. The panorama effect works great for minimally edited driving sequences, but how would kinetic action work? My question was answered in Bad Boys For Life, and I think it’s a success.
The presentation doesn’t draw attention from the action and serves to open up the film frame in a way that subconsciously gave my ADHD-riddled brain more information to interpret and appreciate what was on the screen. Much to my delight, they chose to use the format to enhance dramatic scenes. For example, a character is in the emergency room having bullets removed from their body. As the main screen zooms in on the bloody round, a series of bullets rain down on either side of the screen. It really drove the point home that deliberate decisions were being made to make use of this technology and the industry wasn’t treating it like something to be farmed out later (looking at you, 3D conversions).
As for the film itself, I must preface by stating that I love the Bad Boys films for all their silly nonsense and Michael Bay indulgences. Watching Bad Boys II in a crowded theater was a wonderful experience, but subsequent viewings were never able to recapture that feeling because the movie feels like it is 4 hours long. Bad Boys For Life wisely chooses not to get too mired into subplots and just keeps hurtling forward.
Now, for the goods: they managed to make a big budget telenovela starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. The filmmakers even tease this in the first act when Martin Lawrence gets fully engaged in a telenovela some women are streaming in a waiting room. I can hardly describe my excitement when the third act begins with the silliest revelation since Batman v. Superman’s infamous Martha scene. From that point on, it becomes so much more than the story of a man coming to grips with his age. It becomes downright ludicrous, and I am all for it. No one has ever believed these films take place in reality, but I was fully prepared for supernatural elements to be introduced at that point and all the characters would completely accept it.
They also wisely took note of how other action franchises are handling heroes that have been onscreen for over 20 years by introducing a team of plucky cops that don’t just serve as cannon fodder or Baytastic rah-rah military fetishism. I would happily watch another film with this team. If you have the opportunity to catch Bad Boys For Life in a theater equipped with ScreenX, it’s a great way to escape the bruja-ha of reality and spend some time in Miami.