Bad Boys: the 5 best action scenes

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?

Since 1995, the Bad Boys movies have been delivering some of the most spectacular car chases, the most explosive gun fights and the most outrageous stunts in all of action cinema. Not to mention one of the all-time great buddy cop duos in renegade Miami detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence).

With the fourth film in series - Bad Boys: Ride or Die - now in cinemas, what better time to look back on the five best action set pieces in the franchise so far.

5. The foot chase (Bad Boys, 1995)

Mike (Will Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence), wearing dirty riot gear, stare coolly at the camera.

Credit: Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Slick, cool and thrumming with energy, Bad Boys is a classic of ‘90s action cinema. Its legacy speaks for itself: outside of the three (and counting) sequels, it effectively launched the Hollywood career of comedian Martin Lawrence, transformed Will Smith into a genuine movie star and introduced the world to master explosion-wrangler Michael Bay.

Love him or hate him, Bay is undeniably good at on-screen action, and the director’s flair for carnage is on full display in this bonkers chase scene through the streets and back alleys of downtown Miami. 

The whole thing looks like it was cobbled together from random footage - the bad guys run through a fashion shoot full of bikini-clad models and a hair salon full of screaming old ladies, and supercop Mike Lowrey (Smith) seems to be running in slow motion the entire time - but somehow it works. And the final low-angle 360-degree shot of our titular Bad Boys is now iconic.

The result is a classic Bay action sequence: stylish, frenetic, utterly nonsensical and super exciting.

4. The motorcycle chase (Bad Boys For Life, 2020)

Mike rides a motorcycle, screaming, while Marcus cowers in the sidecar. Behind them, something explodes.

Michael Bay chose not to return for this belated threequel, but incoming directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah quickly proved themselves worthy replacements.

This scene - in which the boys pursue a fleeing suspect on a motorcycle and sidecar - is quintessential Bad Boys: a loud, kinetic chase sequence laced through with comedy, unexpected twists and tons of explosions.

It begins with a great physical gag involving rubber bullets and ends with a rocket launcher being fired from a helicopter. What more could you ask for in a Bad Boys action scene?

3. The race to the border (Bad Boys II, 2003)

A bright yellow Humvee flies through the air between two shacks made of corrugated metal sheets.

Also known as the bit where Will Smith drives a Hummer through a shanty town.

After illegally travelling to Cuba to storm a drug lord’s compound, Mike (Smith), Marcus (Lawrence) and his sister Syd (Gabrielle Union) make a desperate dash for American soil. With the bad guys in hot pursuit, Mike takes a shortcut through a nearby complex of shacks - all of which seem to be filled with high explosives. The whole thing culminates in a tense standoff in the landmine-riddled sand outside Guantanamo Bay. 

It’s an electric sequence, filled with audacious stunts and wanton destruction, that feels especially dangerous because it was all done for real.

2. The hangar shootout (Bad Boys, 1995)

 In an aircraft hangar, Marcus points a gun at an unseen bad guy.

A truly explosive finale - in every sense of the word - this tense, climactic showdown manages to pack in everything you’d want from an action blockbuster: there are gunfights, fist fights, people diving through the air in slow motion. And so. Many. Explosions.

All the bad guys get satisfyingly gnarly deaths - one is electrocuted, another blasted across the room while on fire - and it ends with a car chase and a gigantic fireball. It’s glorious carnage, and an absolute joy to behold.

Fun fact - director Michael Bay didn’t have enough budget left for the plane explosion in this scene, so he paid for it out of his own pocket. Now that’s true Bayhem.

1. The freeway chase (Bad Boys II, 2003)

Sitting in an expensive car, Mike and Marcus scream as the world zips by at speed outside the window.

It sometimes seems that the whole of Bad Boys II is one long action sequence, but there are plenty of standout moments across its epic two-and-a-half hour runtime. The absolute best, though, has to be the freeway chase - still one of the greatest car chases ever committed to film.

The chase lasts almost ten minutes, split into two halves by an intense gunfight, and it’s in the second half that director Michael Bay really pulls out all the stops. Mike and Marcus chase a heavily-armed gang across the city in Mike’s ludicrously expensive Ferrari 550. Bullets fly, bodies fly, and the bad guys even toss cars and a speedboat at their relentless pursuers.

The destruction is eye-watering, the speed blistering, the gags giddy and ridiculous. It’s a masterclass in kinetic, explosive action filmmaking and still has the power to leave you breathless twenty years later.

Where to watch the Bad Boys films

All three of the previous Bad Boys movies are available to stream in the UK, making it easier than ever to revisit all of the glorious carnage in the comfort of your own home.

Bad Boys and Bad Boys II can be found on Sky Cinema, and all three - including Bad Boys for Life - are on Netflix. The newest entry, Bad Boys: Ride or Die, is in cinemas now.

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