Warning: This story contains major spoilers for Bad Boys for Life.
Hollywood action stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence may be a few years older, but don't think that means that they're so past their prime that they can't do stunts with the best of them. After a hiatus of almost 20 years, the funniest police officers on the force are back on the streets of Miami in Bad Boys For Life.
In the third installment in the Bad Boys trilogy, detectives Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) and Mike Lowry (Smith) aren't the spring chickens that they used to be. Marcus, in particular — his new title as a grandfather has him seriously reconsidering his future in the dangerous narcotics division. Marcus' concerns about the longevity of his career as a police officer are affirmed when Mike is wounded in a drive-by shooting, the last in several related assassination attempts on the lives lawyers and judges tied to a specific drug trafficking case from years ago.
Carrying out the assassinations is sexy sharpshooter Armando Armas (Jacob Scipio), the son of escaped convict Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo). Since the day he was born, Isabel has been training Armando to take down the men who sent her and her husband to prison for drug trafficking. Armando grows into a skilled fighter and stone-cold killer, effortlessly carrying out each assassination with laser-sharp focus.
However, he drops the ball with Mike; the famed police detective miraculously survives the shooting (thanks, in part, to the fervent prayers of his partner) and emerges from the hospital with a taste for revenge. Working with a reluctant Marcus and a newly assembled team of green officers, Mike sets out to discover the identity of the man who put out a hit on him.
After a series of close encounters with Armando — including one brutal ass-whooping that proves that this Bad Boy may be a little out of his league — Mike makes a startling revelation about his attacker. When he was fresh out of the police academy, Mike took on a mission in Mexico to infiltrate the Armas cartel. He fell in love with Isabel, the wife of the cartel's leader, and was forced to turn her over to federal custody for her many, many crimes. Unbeknownst to Mike, Isabel gave birth to their son in prison. That son grew up to be Armando.
Upon making the discovery, Mike and Marcus travel to Mexico to confront the mother and son duo in one final showdown. A violent fight ensues between both sides until Mike finally lets Armando in on the big secret. He's not allowed to properly react to the big reveal because Isabel fires a nearly-fatal shot right into her son's chest. (The moment is a bit rushed, but with only fifteen minutes left in the film, we'll take what we can get.)
Surprise — Armando lives to see another day! But since he killed so many people, he's placed in a high security prison cell to spend the rest of his days. Thankfully, daddy dearest comes to visit his long lost son with news of a great gig that might even shorten his sentence. The film ends there, leaving audiences with one question: Are we getting a new Bad Boys film, complete with a new addition to the core team?
Writing Scipio into the action franchise would be a smart move for many reasons. The Bad Boys universe began in 1995, with Lawrence and Smith taking on their action-packed roles with the energy and passion of young men. Fifteen years later, the actors are back in action, but they're not exactly in the same space that they were before. Smith humbly admitted on The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon that he was only able to do a few stunts on his own before calling for backup.
Should they add the character of Armando as a permanent fixture in the Bad Boys franchise, Smith and Lawrence could still exist in the universe without losing the magic of their onscreen chemistry. Just look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe's perfect integration of new characters with each phase; even as older heroes get phased out of the universe (à la Tony Stark), their relationships with new characters play a key part in the storyline. As Armando, Scipio could lead the newly established AMMO team and its ragtag members, composed of Vanessa Hudgens, Charles Melton, and Alexander Ludwig.
Both Lawrence and Smith have said that they would be down to reprise their roles as the buddy cops once again, and The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the stars are already hard at work on a fourth film. Mike and Armando's unique father-son dynamic may get the exploration that it deserves. Sign me up for that move, please.
Bad Boys for Life is now available in theatres.