Back in the day, we thought the eight-year gap between the first two “Bad Boys” movies was long and painful, but little did we know it would be another 16-and-a-half years before we’d get a third one. But “Bad Boys for Life” has finally arrived, and despite the absence of Michael Bay in the director’s chair this time most critics seem to have enjoyed it. Given that reception, plus the reduced budget for this one, it feels we could be in for a few more of these in the near future if this one does reasonably well.

Officially, however, we know nothing about the future of this series, and the marketing certainly has pushed the idea that this could be the last one. The official synopsis, for example, says that Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back for “one last ride.” So you wouldn’t be crazy to think that “Bad Boys for Life” is the last one. I mean they even used a title that would be perfect for a fourth movie — like “Bad Boys 4 Life” — which on some level feels like they chose that title because they figured this was it.

But there are a couple big clues that indicate that, at minimum, Sony, Smith and Lawrence are open to doing more. The first is, of course, the movie itself, which does not exactly have a “this is the end of the franchise” sort of conclusion. Quite to the contrary, in fact. “Bad Boys for Life” specifically seems to be setting up future adventures with Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, along with their new team of tech-focused millennial crime fighters. And it’s not vague about it — the movie ends by teasing “Bad Boys 4.”

The other clue is that Sony previously had a fourth “Bad Boys” movie on its release calendar. Four years ago, the studio scheduled “Bad Boys 3,” which at the time was to be directed bu Joe Carnahan, for February 2017, and “Bad Boys 4” for July 2019. Obviously, that schedule changed as it took until now to get “Bad Boys for Life” done thanks to another change in directors and more scheduling conflicts for Will Smith after production was pushed back again.

So the takeaways from this are that, in the present day, a fourth “Bad Boys” movie is not officially on the way. But Sony had planned to do to one, and “Bad Boys for Life” is setting one up, so it stands to reason that if it does well enough then “Bad Boys 4” will almost certainly happen. Though if the fourth film gets stuck in development hell for a decade like this new one did, then that will probably be it — Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are in their 50s, so it’s not likely that they’d be up for it after another long hiatus.

So if you enjoy “Bad Boys for Life” and are hoping for a “Bad Boys 4,” you should root for box office success for this thing.

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‘Bad Boys for Life’ Film Review: Will Smith and Martin Lawrence Go Over the Top, Again

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