If you were worried that those back-to-back release date delays were a bad sign for the long-developed third installment in the Bad Boys franchise, recently titled Bad Boys for Life, fret not. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are set to return for the action comedy sequel, which was originally scheduled for February 2017, then moved to June 2nd, and earlier this month moved again, this time to January 12, 2018. Two pretty significant delays, so it’s natural that some folks were worried there might be some creative issues or behind-the-scenes drama. Not so.
According to writer-director Joe Carnahan, who’s currently hard at work on his Frank Grillo-led action thriller Wheelman, Bad Boys 3 is still full steam ahead. In an interview with io9, Carnahan clarified that the release date delay came down to a matter of scheduling — you may have noticed Will Smith is pretty busy this year with a major summer blockbuster (Suicide Squad) and an awards contender (Collateral Beauty) on the docket. And everybody involved wants to make sure they’ve got the best script before jumping into production.
“We couldn’t all get in a room, go through this thing and really ring it out,” he said. “I’m a big believer in ‘Do the work at the script level until you’ve got something you know works.’ That everyone is happy with, the stars are happy with, the director is happy with, the studio is happy with.”
And it sounds like that script is coming together quite well, with Carnahan describing it as “the strongest script of any of those movies. Hands down. In a walk over.” Which may seem aggressively confident, but to be fair, for all the wise-cracking and bombastic spectacle of Michael Bay’s first two films, story was never their strong point. Carnahan continued, “Unless you’re Toy Story 3, usually third ones aren’t the strongest, and I think this one will be the strongest of the trilogy thus far.”
The director also addressed another issue of concern — will Bad Boys for Life be another in the series of sequel/remake hybrids that “pass the torch” to a cast of younger, invariably less charismatic actors? Newp (and thank god). After Smith passed on returning for one of those very sequels (the dismal Independence Day: Resurgence), there’s been concern that it might be difficult to lock the star down for the Bad Boys for Life (despite a couple very enthusiastic public comments to the contrary). Carnahan lays those worries to rest resolutely.
“There’s only one Will Smith and one Martin Lawrence,” Carnahan said. “You can’t replace those guys and I wouldn’t want to be involved if it wasn’t Will and Martin. They are that franchise.”
But don’t expect the film to be a simple call back to what came before.“There are obviously little things you want to tip your hat too but I think the danger is becoming this slavish ‘We have to check all these boxes’,” he explained. “I think you have to be careful with that. I’m always interested in ‘I know what has been done. What hasn’t been done?’ If not it’s just regurgitating old tropes and ideas and that’s not fun for anybody”
Instead, Carnahan wants to offer an updated take on the characters that hits the right tonal beats for the franchise but dives a little deeper. “There’s a lot of funny shit in this movie,” he said. “And there’s also a very mysterious, but tonally spot-on story that I think is kind of perfect for where we are in this day and age, where the guys are and reflectively, a very modern take on these guys. It’s kind of what becomes of Bad Boys when they’re not boys anymore.”
Basically, this all sounds pretty excellent. I’m just hoping he’s writing in a role for Frank Grillo because there should always be a role for Frank Grillo. In addition to Wheelman, Carnahan is also currently scripting the film adaptation of the video game Uncharted and is looking to head into production on Bad Boys for Life early next year.