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Bad Boys for Life release date, cast, trailer and story

Whatcha gonna do? After many fits and starts, the third film in the Bad Boys trilogy is coming soon to a theater near you!

It's been a long time since we saw detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett (Will Smith and Martin Lawrence) taking down criminals in style, but they'll bring their unique blend of action and comedy back into the fray with Bad Boys for Life when it releases in 2020.

If you're curious about this long-awaited sequel and some of the drama surrounding it, look no further — here's everything you need to know before you pick up your tickets and sit down to watch some massive explosions and ridiculous action scenes. Considering what a product of their time the first two films are, what can Bad Boys for Life bring to the table?

Pump up the volume and load up some Inner Circle. Here's all the info we have so far on Bad Boys for Life.

What's the release date for Bad Boys for Life?

We can practically hear you now: "Wait, Bad Boys? Didn't the last one come out a decade ago?" You sweet summer child — it's been well over a decade.

There have only been two prior films in the franchise, and it has been quite some time since we saw Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in these roles together. Bad Boys 2 hit theaters all the way back in 2003, and the original film was first released way back in 1995! That means the franchise will have been dormant for close to two decades by the time Bad Boys for Life hits screens on January 17, 2020.

Yes, it's been a while for Bad Boys. That isn't for lack of trying, however. There have been several delays and near cancellations of the third film (which we'll get to). In the meantime, we've also TV spin-off: L.A.'s Finest, which debuted in May 2019, stars Gabrielle Union as Sydney Burnett, the same role she plays in Bad Boys 2.

In for life: who's returning from the Bad Boys cast?

It just wouldn't be a Bad Boys film if it weren't for the bad boys themselves, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Obviously, both Smith and Lawrence are returning in their franchise roles as detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, and they'll still use extreme measures to combat some of the worst crime in Miami.

Will Smith's character, Mike Lowrey, is the rich ladies man of the team, while Lawrence's Marcus Burnett is more the family man. Both men are excellent cops, however, and work well together to take down criminals. Both actors also seem very excited to be back in the saddle for Bad Boys for Life.

There's one other crucial aspect to the Bad Boys franchise, and that's the irritated (and begrudgingly respectful) Captain Howard. Luckily, Joe Pantoliano will also be returning in Bad Boys for Life; he's probably still just about had it with our detectives, and he'll probably still have some great lines about commissioners being all over him about one thing or another.

Who's joining the Bad Boys for Life cast?

Most of the actors showing up in Bad Boys for Life are new to the franchise, but there's a pretty good mix of up-and-coming actors and well-established ones.

The big one joining the cast is Jacob Scipio, who will portray the film's villain. His character is described as having a "vicious, taunting nature" and he has a past connection with our detectives. Scipio has appeared in quite a few television series (he even voiced Leo in Bob the Builder!) and films like Hunter Killer and The Outpost.

Paola Nunez, a star of Mexican television and film, is also joining Bad Boys for Life. She plays Mike's ex, who is now a criminal psychologist and head of an elite police squad called AMMO. We also know a few actors who will play roles as members of this elite squad: Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, and Charles Melton will all be part of the team. It's a Bad Boys film, so it probably isn't much of a stretch to guess that at least one of them is a secret bad guy.

The Bad Boys for Life trailer

With all the years that have passed since Bad Boys II, you're probably eager to see some things blow up already. Well, you're in luck — the official trailer is here to deliver all the classic Bad Boys action you've been missing. It's got pretty much everything you could want. Will Smith exasperated at Martin Lawrence's antics? Check. Joe Pantoliano swearing a whole bunch? Check. A bunch of people singing "Bad Boys" by Inner Circle? Oh, hell yes. 

And the explosions. So many explosions.

One thing we don't get a lot out of the trailer is story. Essentially, all we're told is that this is "one last time" for detectives Lowrey and Burnett. That cliche in detective stories usually means someone is going to die ("Mendoza!"), but it's tough to imagine either of these characters biting the bullet. It seems more likely they'll realize that they're being aged out of the Miami cop life and pass the torch… but we'll just have to wait and see.

What's the plot of Bad Boys for Life?

We know a bit of the story going into Bad Boys for Life, thanks to some official production notes. Here's the gist of what to expect out of the film.

The story focuses on AMMO, an elite squad within the Miami Police Department. Their current target is Armando Armas (Jacob Scipio), a violent young cartel leader and murderer. Armas focuses his crosshairs on Detective Lowrey (Will Smith), as he has a history with our heroes.

Lowrey and Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are pulled back into the fray, despite the fact that they both seem to have their eye on retirement. They start working with AMMO's leader, Rite (Paula Nunez), to stop the threat that Armas poses. Naturally, Rite is also a former flame of Detective Lowrey, and he considers her "the one that got away."

One interesting wrinkle in the plot description is that Armas targets our heroes under the direction of his mother. We don't know who plays this character — Kate del Castillo, who has been cast in an undisclosed role, seems like a good bet — but it will be interesting to see what beef she has against Lowrey and Burnett.

Is Michael Bay attached to Bad Boys for Life?

It seems like all the elements for a Bad Boys film are here, but Bad Boys for Life is missing one significant piece: Michael Bay. The Bad Boys franchise is closely tied to the explosion-happy director, but he is actually not directing the film. Nor is he writing it, or attached as a producer. Somehow, Michael Bay is not tied to Bad Boys for Life in any way.

Instead, the directing duo of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are at the helm. They previously directed Black, Gangsta, and have also signed to direct Beverly Hills Cop 4 (which, yes, is a real thing that's also happening). They may not have been the first choices to take on Bad Boys for Life, but they were the ones who managed to get the troubled production to the finish line.

Michael Bay is currently working on 6 Underground, starring Ryan Reynolds. A Bad Boys film without Bay will be strange, but it can still work with the other pieces in place as they are.

The original director left after butting heads with Will Smith

Why did it take so long for a third Bad Boys movie to explode onto the screen? Well, the project had to sail some troubled waters. Will Smith has reportedly had a sequel in mind since at least 2008, and multiple delays had many people thinking it may never happen at all.

The original director was going to be Joe Carnahan, who's helmed big action movies like The Grey, Smokin' Aces, and The A-Team. However, Carnahan apparently clashed with Will Smith about the creative direction of Bad Boys for Life, and was subsequently let go from the project. Afterwards, Martin Lawrence himself expressed doubt that the movie would ever get off the ground. In 2017, he told EW, "I don't think we're going to get one, not the way everything's turning out… Will is off doing another movie, and I don't think it's going to happen."

It's unclear exactly what caused the rift, but Carnahan is still credited as co-writer on the film's screenplay. Regardless, the film passed into the hands of directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah.

Winston Duke wants to star if Bad Boys gets rebooted

Considering all the talk in the trailer of this being "the last ride" for our detective heroes, it seems likely that Bad Boys for Life is the end of their story. However, if they decide to ever truly reboot the Bad Boys franchise, one Hollywood actor has already thrown his name in the ring to take up the reins — and he's got a plan for who would be his partner.

Winston Duke, who played M'Baku in Black Panther and starred in Jordan Peele's Us, told the The Deadline Podcast that he would love to star if they ever rebooted Bad Boys. He also threw out the name Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Black Panther) as the person he would choose to partner up with if it ever did get off the ground.

Considering the timing, it seems unlikely that a Bad Boys reboot will happen any time soon. We'll have to see what kind of success Bad Boys for Life has first — maybe we will wind up seeing Duke running around the streets of Miami before long.