If the 2010s were the decade of reboots (two fresh new takes on Spider-Man!), the next ten years may see Hollywood return to a time-honored technique of preserving its intellectual property: the sequel. And in an era where it’s almost impossible to get anything new greenlit, studios are going even more postmodern, revisiting franchises with their original casts. 2020 will welcome back (among others) the Bad Boys, Top Gun, and Bill & Ted’s franchises. How can these sequels succeed so many years later, with new directors at the helm, and with stars that could use varying degrees of The Irishman‘s de-aging magic? Here’s a look at what to expect.
Bad Boys for Life (January 17)
The franchise’s first two installments, Bad Boys (1995) and Bad Boys II (2003), grossed over $400 million combined, and continued a long tradition of impossibly cool action sequences set in Miami. The films follow Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, two detectives in over their heads with a knack for inventively deployed profanity. While their dialogue and plot might be stale in other hands, the beauty of the first two Bad Boys films comes from watching Will Smith’s transformation from budding movie star who raps sometimes to, well, Will Smith.
In Smith’s first commercially successful feature, he proves himself magnetic enough to carry a franchise. Paired with first-time feature director Michael Bay’s smooth action, the film moves with undeniable swagger. Regardless of how you feel about Bad Boys having unleashed Bay on the world of cinema, his pacing, crashes, explosions, and shootouts look as sharp as anyone’s. With the first installment, and the sequel’s ten-times-bigger budget, Bay created the style that would come to define the action genre for the next 20 years.
Which brings us to today. It’s much harder to get people in theaters—even Bay has made the move to Netflix. But while Will Smith may have lost some of his new-toy sheen, he’s still, well, Will Smith, as charming as ever. And let’s not forget Martin Lawrence, who, to borrow from another buddy-cop franchise, may have gotten too old for this s—, but promises to pack a counterpunch as the exasperated but somehow overconfident Marcus Burnett.
If action directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah can do their best Michael Bay impression—the trailer goes three for three on cars, explosions, and one-liners—Bad Boys for Life should be a pleasure to watch on the big screen.