Bad Boys Movies Ranked: From Worst to Best

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is a hit, but how does it rank alongside the rest of the Bad Boys movies? Let’s take a look!

Last Updated on June 10, 2024

bad boys 1995

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, watcha gonna do? Watcha gonna do when they come for you?

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve only gotten four Bad Boys movies despite it being an almost thirty-year-old franchise. With Will Smith’s stardom reaching truly epic levels, he never really had time to become a “franchise” guy outside of Men in Black (which he eventually left as well), which, in some ways, has been a blessing to this buddy cop series. While audiences are a bit sick of franchises that crank out movie after movie, the Bad Boys films are still pretty fresh, so when they return occasionally, audiences are happy to see them (with the series showing no signs of waning). But, of the movies, which rule the roost as the best of the best? Let’s take a look with our Bad Boys movies ranked list!

Bad Boys 4, image, Will Smith, Martin Lawrence

Bad Boys For Life (2020)

Just like the Mad Max series, I’d wager every Bad Boys film is decent, with them all just varying degrees of good. Of the four films, my least favorite has always been Bad Boys For Life, as I felt a bit shell-shocked by the fact that Michael Bay had left the franchise and that the action under new directors Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah seemed lower wattage, with too much of the focus being on making this a “team” movie (with the introduction of AMMO) to turn the franchise into a Fast and Furious-style series, complete with post-credit sequences and teases.

bad boys ride or die, bad boys movies ranked

Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024)

However, Adil and Bilall upped their game for the next film in the franchise, bringing the focus back where it belonged, on Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s Mike and Marcus. They doubled down on the buddy cop aspect that made the franchise so good in the first place, and they also benefited from the fact that they didn’t have to spend the movie introducing the new supporting characters, as the AMMO cops were already well-established. 

bad boys movies ranked

Bad Boys (1995)

That said, I tend to enjoy the Michael Bay Bad Boys movies a bit more, as his action sequences can’t help but be a lot more potent. His high style transformed what could have been a run-of-the-mill action movie into a star-making franchise. It’s hard to over-estimate what a huge movie this was for Smith, turning him (overnight) from a TV star into a full-fledged action hero. It also made Martin Lawrence a way bigger star than he had been before, with him also being a sitcom vet (and NC-17-rated comedian) who, for many years to follow, would be a hugely bankable lead, with movies like Blue Streak (underrated) and Big Momma’s House making him a crossover star. This is where it all began, with Bay giving the film a potent sense of pace and style, with Tea Leoni, an excellent foil to our cop heroes.

bad boys 2, bad boys movies ranked

Bad Boys 2 (2003)

With Smith, Lawrence, Bay and Bruckheimer all at the top of the A-list by 2003, Sony was willing to do anything they could to entice the fellas to make a sequel. What they got was one of the most excessive, ultra-violent, and out-of-control movies to ever come out of a major studio, and I love it. From the opening shoot-out with the KKK (featuring a young Michael Shannon) to corpses on the freeway full of drugs being run over by our heroes to a war movie ending that seems plucked out of Black Hawk Down, Bad Boys 2 is a wild ride, and I love it. Too bad it seemed a little too radical for audiences back in 2003, with it only being a mild financial success compared to the other movies Smith, Bay, and Bruckheimer were routinely churning out at the time. 

Do you agree with our rankings? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.