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Will Smith and Martin Lawrence on Bad Boys For Life: 'These two dudes are total opposites... it's the yin and the yang that pulls it all together'

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have reprised their roles of Miami detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, more than 20 years after Bad Boys II. They explain to Laura Harding what inspired them, while the directors reveal what it was like to have their biggest dream come true

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Miami swagger: Will Smith (left) as Mike Lowrey and Martin Lawrence as Marcus Burnett

Miami swagger: Will Smith (left) as Mike Lowrey and Martin Lawrence as Marcus Burnett

Press Association Images

Action story: Kate del Castillo as Isabel

Action story: Kate del Castillo as Isabel

Press Association Images

Jacob Scipio as Armando Armas Tapia

Jacob Scipio as Armando Armas Tapia

Press Association Images

Miami swagger: Will Smith (left) as Mike Lowrey and Martin Lawrence as Marcus Burnett

It's been 25 years since Bad Boys first burst on to the big screen, full of swagger, stunts and that famous song. Fresh Prince Of Bel Air star Will Smith and funnyman Martin Lawrence both left the small screen behind and became bona fide movie stars after their performances as bad ass Miami narcotics detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, and the film was such a hit they followed it up with 2003's sequel Bad Boys II.

Now they are finally back together for the long-awaited third instalment Bad Boys For Life, but it's hard to deny that some things have changed.

The film opens in traditional style, with the duo racing through the streets of Miami in a 992-generation Porsche.

But it is revealed it isn't criminals they are after, they are racing to the hospital in time to see the birth of Marcus' granddaughter.

"We wanted to immediately embrace the fact that time has gone by for Mike and Marcus, as it does for everyone," says Smith, who is now 51.

"The opening sequence with Marcus becoming a grandfather is new territory that launches these characters' stories into another chapter."

But while Mike thinks he is the same guy he's always been, Marcus is starting to think it's time to retire.

"These two dudes are total opposites in every way, but that's why they work so well together," Smith adds.

Lawrence, who is now 55, agrees. "It's the yin and the yang that pulls it all together.

"Audiences wanted to see us together again because the two characters work so well together. But as Marcus says in the film, 'This ain't the same old song. This here's the remix'."

That remix comes in the form of someone from Mike's past, who seems to want him dead.

"Mike tries to convince Marcus to join him for this final ride, but Marcus is done with all that, at least at first," Smith says.

"I thought that was a great dynamic to explore: how friendships pull apart.

"When people aren't willing to grow, they can divert from their friends' pathway.

"You start to see a separation between Mike and Marcus in this way."

And it's not just their dynamic that is changing.

The old school pair also have to contend with the elite new police unit Advance Miami Metro Operations (AMMO), which has introduced high-tech investigative tactics to the Miami PD.

"It's the Bad Boys versus this new style of policing," Smith says.

"That was another aspect that really drew me into this story - Mike and Marcus know how to get it done by kicking down doors, but then these AMMO guys come in and show there's a different way, guys.

"And you know Mike Lowrey loves kicking stuff," Lawrence adds. "He doesn't just kick the door open; he kicks it off the hinges.

"And now this new wave of cops comes in and wants them using non-lethal weapons."

Exploring the impact of the passage of time, and how it feels to get older, was a key theme for the film's Belgian directors Adil El Arbi (31) and Bilall Fallah (34) who were still children when the first Bad Boys films were in the cinema.

"Will didn't want to make a third movie just a copy of the other ones," El Arbi says. "He wanted to acknowledge what it meant for these two guys who were the bad boys.

"What does it mean when one wants to stay young and the other wants to just acknowledge the fact he's older and wants to retire and that conflict between those two characters.

"I think that was a smart move from Will, to push the creators and the screenwriters in that direction, because it's another theme we could take on.

"I was eight-years-old when I saw the first one, and after the second movie there were a lot of thoughts about making a third one. We were still teenagers, not even in film school, but it was always a running gag with me and Bilall, if they are not going to make Bad Boys, we are going to make that movie, right?"

Fallah laughs at the memory.

"I remember when I was on the playground playing as if I was one of the Bad Boys, I was really little. I think I'm the biggest fan. So when we were on set, it's like you're in a dream, it's like it's not real.

"You see Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and Jerry Bruckheimer (the superstar producer) on the set and we look at each other and we are like, 'What the hell are we doing here?'

"But they gave us so much trust, so much confidence, they were really like our big brothers and it was just fun to make this movie with our heart and soul."

They even got to direct one of their heroes, the film-maker Michael Bay, who directed the first two Bad Boys movies and has a cameo in this film.

So with attention inevitably turning to a possible Bad Boys 4, how could they possibly top that?

"That is difficult," El Arbi admits. "There were so many surprises, so many unexpected scenes, that we want to have the same kind of unexpected scenes in the fourth movie, so that it doesn't become just a sequel, just a copy or just a cash grab.

"We want to have a really interesting story that we can tell, we feel that with these two characters we can tell one."

Bad Boys For Life is out on DVD and Blu-ray on Sunday and available for digital download now

Belfast Telegraph