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Soundtrack review: Bad boys for life (Lorne Balfe – 2020)

Action Film scores

Soundtrack review: Bad boys for life (Lorne Balfe – 2020)


Soundtrack review: Bad boys for life (Lorne Balfe – 2020)

“Bad Boys for Life” is a 2020 American action comedy film starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and is the sequel to Bad Boys II (2003) in the Bad Boys franchise. The film was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Smith, and Doug Belgrad. The film follows detectives Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) reuniting once again when someone starts murdering people involved in an old case. The film co-stars Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Núñez, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam, and Joe Pantoliano.

“Bad Boys” is one of the franchises I always revisit with pleasure. I love the bombastic action, the fun and, yes the music. Mark Mancina gave this franchise a clear and memorable identity with his main theme and now it’s time for Lorne Balfe to give it a go. now Lorne has been in a state of grace for the past couple of years and it feels kind of crazy that the more projects he takes on, the better the music is. And there it is, that fun and addictive Mancina main theme reinterpreted by Lorne, blasting in my ears with a new, awesome (you will see this word a few more times in this review) choral section added in the middle. I just love what Lorne did with that main theme and how the 2020 version sounds and it makes me even more pumped for the movie. It somehow also manages to make me thing of Italian or French police movies of the 80s with that melodic vocal motif.

“It’s good shit lieutenant” takes a motif from the main theme and mixes it with what sounds like an outtake of my favourite score of 2018 and one of my favourite Lorne scores ever, “Mission impossible – Fallout”. Ah, them bongos, I hope Lorne keeps them close for future scores as well because I’ve kind of become addicted to that sound. The more this score progresses the bolder and more spectacular it gets. Did I mention it’s also fun? So. Much. Fun. I feel like clapping and jumping and mimicking playing drums to the arousing beats Lorne Balfe pours in my ear. That new vocal motif alone is enough to warrant this score a must listen status. I want it distilled and concentrated in liquid form and injected in my veins.

While crafting his own sound for this one, Lorne Balfe peppers the main title every now and then to keeps us anchored in the “Bad Boys” franchise and make us remember and care for the main characters. A cue like “What else you got” (I imagine this spoken in the Will Smith voice) pumps me full of adrenaline and is the kind of motivational anthem that makes my heart go at 180. I know what this franchise is about even without yet seeing the third movie and Lorne knows as well; this particular cue shows everything I love about “Bad boys” as is one of those action cues you will remember at the end of the year. Or maybe some people will consider “We ride together, we die together” among the cues of 2020 when December comes. I surely will.

You need a break from all that action sometimes? Don’t worry, the main theme can get played in a low, almost elegiac tone in “Prayer”. It can also get tense, suspenseful if that is your cup of tea, like in “The truth”. Maybe you are a fan of the 80s synth sound? I don’t want to spoil the entire score for you, but there’s a passage at the end of this particular cue…Yeah, that too. Just by listening to the score I am beginning to understand why the critics love the movie; if it has the emotional depth the music has, on top of the action extravaganza, we have a winner.

Like I said before, I am a huge fan of the franchise so I was excited about “Bad Boys for life” anyway; I didn’t imagine that the score, even if it was written by one of my absolute fav composers, could get me even more pumped and excited about it. But it did. Lorne Balfe took the Bad Boys sound, that iconic main theme and put it through his own personal grinder, beat it on bongos, played it from various throats and then spit it back out and stitched it back together and into various parts of this score. I loved it. My only regret is that unlike, say, Fallout, this one is quite short at 40 minutes. From what I understand though that’s how much the movie needed. Either way, do not miss this one.

Cue rating: 92 / 100

Bad Boys for Life
It’s Good Shit Lieutenant
What Else You Got?
God’s Gun
The Truth
We Ride Together, We Die Together
One last time

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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