Every Bad Boys Movie Ranked

"Bad Boys" is something of an unlikely franchise. The first film is a comedy of errors; a buddy cop pic in which two very different partners have to pretend to be each other. Then there's the sequel, the bombastic, over-the-top, gleefully vile "Bad Boys II," in which director Michael Bay goes full Bayhem. And then we have the surprisingly good "Bad Boys For Life," a third film in which the characters have grown up a bit (it's also the only film in the series that Bay didn't direct). A fourth film, currently untitled, is in the works. But until that movie gets here, we have three films to deal with, and we went ahead and ranked them below! 

3. Bad Boys

Usually, the first film in a franchise will be the best. But that's not the case for "Bad Boys"! The first "Bad Boys" was actually Michael Bay's feature directorial debut, and as such, it's not quite the full Bay experience. The filmmaker would eventually find his groove with his subsequent films, and the franchise as a whole wouldn't hit its nasty stride until the sequel. In the first film, playboy cop Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and his family man partner Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are Miami narcotics detectives who end up having to pretend to be one another in order to convince a murder witness (Téa Leoni) to play ball. It's a weirdly convoluted plot for such a simple movie, and it's easily the least memorable film in the series. Still, "Bad Boys" arrived when Will Smith's star was on the rise (Lawrence actually gets top billing here, as he was the bigger star at the time), and as a result, made good money at the box office. When that happens, sequels are inevitable! 

2. Bad Boys For Life

I don't think anyone had high hopes for "Bad Boys For Life," the third entry in the series. For one thing, director Michael Bay was no longer at the helm. Instead, the directing duo known as Adil & Bilall were calling the shots. For another thing, the film was arriving 17 years after "Bad Boys II," which suggested that a sequel wasn't exactly something that people were jumping up and down for. And yet, "Bad Boys For Life" is surprisingly good! What makes the film work is the fact that the characters are no longer the young hotshots we first met back in 1995. They're older now, and part of the story involves how they've grown as individuals. As I said in my review, "But it's the unexpected amount of heart that ends up making 'Bad Boys for Life' a pleasant surprise ... [S]ome people mellow out when they get older. They slow down, and they realize they've been taking certain things for granted. If the 'Bad Boys' franchise of all damn things can have actual emotional growth there might be hope yet for all of us." And oh yeah, did I mention the main villain in this film is a witch? Wild stuff, man! 

1. Bad Boys II

"Bad Boys II" is ugly, mean, and utterly deranged. It's also easily the best entry in the franchise! Michael Bay goes completely bonkers here, overloading the sequel with so much style that it becomes overwhelming. This isn't a movie, it's a sensory overload. Free of the silly "pretending to be each other" storyline of the first film, "Bad Boys II" has Mike and Marcus taking down drug smugglers, all while Mike tries to hide the fact that he's in a secret relationship with Marcus' sister. But really, the plot doesn't matter — Bay just needs an excuse to stage a series of increasingly wild action set pieces that grow more chaotic as the film progresses. "Bad Boys II" isn't the best Michael Bay movie (that would be "Pain & Gain"), but it is the most Michael Bay movie.

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