Bad Boys for Life

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Bad Boys for Life Movie Poster Image
Violent, crude buddy-cop "threequel" is chaotic, tired.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 123 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 22 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 21 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Mixed messages. Characters who try to be non-violent are encouraged to bring more violence, without consequences. And characters who are already violent are shown to be "cool." Fatherhood is sometimes a catalyst for people to try to do better, but other times it's used as a joke or as a gateway to more violence. The main story is revenge-based.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters are likable and offer Black representation on screen, but they're also unapologetically violent and crude and never face any consequences. Even their family-like bond seems stretched thin now.


Lots of intense, over-the-top action violence. Guns (including a high-powered sniper rifle) and shooting. Blood spurts, pools of blood. Character impaled by metal spike. Car drops on character's head. Dead bodies. Car chases and crashes. Helicopter crash. Fighting and punching, beating with blunt objects. Character's hand hit with a hammer. Stabbing. Explosions and fire. Video of violent shooting uploaded to the internet and played over and over. A man fights with a woman, throwing her down.


Some sexual humor and/or sex-related talk. Ogling/objectifying women in a nightclub. Images of a "telenovela" on a screen include a couple shown in bed (under covers). Mention of "blue pills."


Constant strong language, with frequent use of "s--t" and "f--k," (including "motherf----r"). Also "bulls--t," "a--hole," "ass," "a--hole," "bitch," "d--k," "dumbass," "balls," "stupid," and a use of the "N" word.


Mention of Uber. Sony logo shown on a camera strap. Nissan mentioned and shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking in bars and at celebratory events. A supporting character is shown snorting cocaine and acting "crazy." Minor characters are drug dealers.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bad Boys for Life is the third movie in the Bad Boys series, which stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as violent, bickering Miami narcotics detectives. This one takes place 17 years after Bad Boys II, and it's just as noisy and busy as the others. Expect lots of over-the-top action violence, with guns and shooting (including a high-powered sniper rifle), blood spurts, dead bodies, fighting, hitting with blunt objects, stabbing, explosions/fire, car chases and crashes, and more. Constant strong language includes countless uses of "s--t" and "f--k," as well as other words (including a use of the "N" word). Women in a club are ogled/objectified, and there's some crude sex-related talk, mostly played for laughs. Characters drink on social occasions and at celebrations, and a supporting character uses cocaine. The main story is based on revenge, and there are mixed-to-problematic messages about consequence-free violence.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCESAR MARINO February 9, 2020

It's fun, but does it.

Unnecessary the amount of sexual conversations and filthy language, so at least your kids are ready enough to discuss and understand sexual themes (there is eve... Continue reading
Adult Written byMovie Guru January 18, 2020

Hilarious Action Packed Flick

This movie does contain strong language and violence. It is appropriate for the mature 13+ population. It is filled with action and is hilarious. Martin Lawre... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bythemovieman123 April 7, 2021

Don't worry if your kids can handle it, worry about if you can handle it.

This is one of the funniest will smith movies but the amount of violence is gratuitous. Also lots of consumerism. I'm not going to go into detail about the... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byJoel_5762 January 26, 2020

Bad Boys for Life | Film Review

Bad Boys for Life is an action-packed, comedic adventure ride. Coming from someone who hasn't seen the previous two Bad Boys films, I throughly enjoyed thi... Continue reading

What's the story?

In BAD BOYS FOR LIFE, Miami narcotics detectives Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) have been partners for 25 years. But when Marcus becomes a grandfather, he starts thinking about retiring. Meanwhile, Mike, who wants to keep being a cop, is shot by a mysterious assassin. While Mike recovers, Marcus promises God that he won't bring any more violence into the world. Mike decides to go after the shooter himself, but the captain (Joe Pantoliano) pairs him with a new, young team of computer specialists (Paola Nunez, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, and Charles Melton). Before long, Mike finds a clue to the villain's identity -- and it has something to do with his own dark past. For the final showdown, Marcus realizes he can't let his old partner down.

Is it any good?

Coming nearly two decades after the last entry, this third buddy-cop continues with the series' same kind of cluttered, noisy filmmaking, but now it's accompanied by a sense of pained weariness. Belgian filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah take over for original director Michael Bay but continue with his chaotic style -- i.e. the logic of a scene doesn't matter as much as how big it is. It's often exhausting trying to follow the haywire chronological and spatial logic of the action in Bad Boys for Life, as characters move through space and time at different rates, depending on what the plot needs.

As for the "boys," they're now in their 50s, and Lawrence in particular looks like he's in physical pain most of the time, as if he can barely move. His comic timing is off, too: His profanity-laden zingers have lost their sharpness. The rest of the characters are so thinly drawn that they're lucky if they get a single character trait. (Poor Hudgens' character has none, except for a bleach-blonde cornrow hairstyle.) Smith at least proves he's a pro by selling a few of his one-liners and soul-searching speeches, but even he can't keep the phrase "for life" from sounding like a punishment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Bad Boys for Life's violence. Is it designed to thrill or shock? How did the filmmakers achieve this effect? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How is sex talked about in the movie? Why is it done with humor? What values are imparted? What would the effect be if it were discussed seriously?

  • Two of the characters try to be non-violent but are encouraged back into violence. Are there consequences for these actions? Is violence seen as a good thing?

  • How does the theme of family (or bonds of friendship) run through this series? What are the positives and negatives of these relationships?

  • Are these law enforcement characters positive role models in any way? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love buddy cop movies

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