It’s spring 1995. In California, it’s nice out. It always is. I got lucky, got some of the Easter money burning a hole in my pocket. Time to hit the movies. That means I get to hit the mall, hang with my boys and mack on (yeah, we used to say that) some fly-honeys (yeah, we said that too). There’s only one movie that any of us were going to see…
This is the movie that turned Will Smith from the fresh Prince into a movie icon. We all know the scene where he took over. Slow-motion running, shirt flapping in the wind, gun in hand. It was a picture-perfect moment, created by (the now somewhat reviled) Michael Bay. Now to be fair, I love both Will Smith AND Michael Bay. But this isn’t about them.
When this movie came out, very few remember it, but Martin Lawrence got top billing. He was THE hot commodity. Yes, they both had sitcoms. Yes, they were both successful. But at the time, Martin had more star power. That’s why when me and my best friend got back to school after the weekend and we called ourselves Bad Boys, I didn’t mind being Marcus (played by Martin).
My best friend was always the smooth one. He was always talking to a girl, getting her to smile. I was always the one cracking jokes, talking sh** or generally just being me. It was the same for Bad Boys. Mike Lowry was THE MAN. But Marcus was equally badass. He threatened to take him and Mike off the road into the ocean, he beat up two guys that tried to ambush him in the club bathroom. He drove the Porsche like a bat out of hell. He jumped on top of the taxi when they were trying to kidnap Julie. And let’s not forget some of my favorite lines. “Bottom line, you don’t sit your lanky a** down, I’ll knock you the f*** out,” as told to John Salley, “and some skittles,” as told to the convenience store clerk.
The characters (Mike and Marcus) are different, but that’s the point. One is smooth and one is not. One is a family man, one is not. But they are BOTH capable detectives and share the moments of looking truly badass. But that’s in the original Bod Boys, where the point was for Marcus to be crotchety, but capable. The success of the franchise leads to the fall of Marcus Burnett.
Bad Boys 2. I won’t deny that I waited for this movie. The tables had turned. Will Smith IS Hollywood. His arms are out on the poster; Martin is slightly shifted to the background. We know what’s coming, but I don’t think we know the depth. At one time in the franchise, Marcus is willing to fight an armed Mike Lowry because he thinks Mike and Teresa have something going on. It’s played for both comedic effect and to show that this is a man that will kill for his family. Flash-forward a few years and Marcus is getting shot in the butt-cheeks and whining as the movie grinds on.
Michael Bay gets a lot of flak for how long some of the sequences were. All that did was highlight how inept they made Marcus. Holding an MP-5, he shoots into Mike Lowry’s glove box? He’s going non-violent? He’s whining at every turn. In the original, he COMPLAINED about everything. But it was his personality. It was like a Rodney Dangerfield type of complaint. A complaint with power behind it. In Bad Boys 2, everything is so wearisome. Only in the climax of the film, does he show the Tactical Narcotics Team grit that should have been on display the entire time. He’s the one that shoots Johnny Tapia in the neck to end the conflict. It was a little late, but nonetheless slightly satisfying as well.
That brings us to Bad Boys for Life. Now while I loved Bad Boys, couldn’t really stand Bad Boys 2, I was still excited about this movie. But from the opening frame, it’s a travesty what’s done to Marcus Burnett. We established in Bad Boys that he can drive like a monster when he wants to, he can shoot (further expanded in Bad Boys 2) and he’s a capable combatant. In the opening sequence of Bad Boys for Life, while Mike is cool and calm behind the wheel, going at breakneck speeds, Marcus is screaming like Tae Leoni’s Julie Mott did in the original film. It becomes increasingly clear that writers/Hollywood think you can’t be a family man and also keep that killer edge. I understand softening with age, but all lack of killer instinct is counter-intuitive. Even the Romans used to put lovers together on the battlefield because they would fight harder for each other. Marcus has an entire family to fight for and instead does nothing.
I don’t want to spoil the movie, so I’ll leave the cringe-worthy pieces out, but Marcus is a complete buffoon until the very end of the movie AGAIN. Martin Lawrence is a great physical comedian and has always had great comedic timing. But Marcus was a funny character when he wasn’t force-fed one-liners and snarky comments. Mike and Marcus’ in-battle banter was great when it felt true, two brothers that cared for each other, in a dire situation, but that didn’t stop them from talking sh**. What we got instead were clunky one-liners and a rip-off of the Austin Powers’ mole scene.
You don’t have to be single to be strong. You don’t have to be a loner to be powerful. I submit that Marcus being a family man gave him MORE to fight for. He wouldn’t be as reckless as Mike, in fact, he would be more efficient and to the point. And his signature whit could have remained. What they did to his character was a travesty.
It makes me mad, because now I’m walking around in black silk shirts say, “I wanna be, I wanna be like Mike. POW!” and reminiscing of when Marcus did it in the original film.
Farewell to the great Marcus Burnett
Brian Joseph Lambert is the lead contributing writer and editor at Wingless Entertainment LTD. He specializes in bringing diversity to action/adventure, fantasy and sci-fi worlds. In 2017, while earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Full Sail University, he published his first novel, ASCENSION- THE CHRUSION SAGA BOOK 1. In 2019 he earned a Master’s degree in Entertainment Business and released JUSTICE- ISSUE #0 for Wingless Entertainment LTD and Konkret Comics. Brian's current projects include WAR FOR THE SWORD- THE CHRUSION SAGA BOOK 2, a CG animated feature film entitled, RUBICON and JUSTICE- THE FALL, an ongoing graphic novel with KONKRET COMICS. Brian recently was selected as a Reader's Favorite Book Award Finalist in 2019 for, ASCENSION- THE CHRUSION SAGA BOOK 1. Brian has edited numerous independent works including, Is’Nana the Were-Spider by Greg Anderson Elysée, Akolyte by Derek Allen, Nia Caler by Dorphise Jean and the upcoming Beyond 13th by Michael Ralph. When not writing or editing, Brian works on creating a functioning lightsaber so that he can pass the Jedi trials.