Why Joe Carnahan left Bad Boys 3

At one point, Narc and The Grey filmmaker Joe Carnahan was set to direct Mission: Impossible III, but left the project due to creative differences. History would repeat itself, with Carnahan leaving yet another threequel, Bad Boys III, for similar reasons. In a recent interview, Carnahan opened up about his Bad Boys III departure, revealing that his vision for the movie clashed with what star Will Smith ultimately wanted.

In 2015, writer-director Joe Carnahan became involved with Bad Boys III, but by 2017, he had left the project. Afterwards, the sequel was removed from the release schedule, and there was doubt the movie would ever be made. By 2018, filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah were tasked with helming, with stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence confirmed to return.

But what happened with Carnahan? According to the filmmaker, his Bad Boys III script was solid, but it wasn’t what star Will Smith wanted. “I love Will, he’s a great guy,” Carnahan recently told Collider. “I just know myself. And I thought what we were doing at that point was the law of diminishing returns. I wasn’t servicing the story that I was really excited about telling, that the studio had greenlit. And again, this isn’t to throw shade at Will — it’s your face on the poster, it’s your name on the poster, you need to do things the way you want them done.”

Carnahan also added that the ending to his script was “one of the best endings I’ve ever written in any movie.”

So does anything of Carnahan’s remain in the upcoming third film, officially titled Bad Boys For Life? Yes, it does. The film’s basic plot – which involves Smith and Lawrence’s aging duo having to work with a hotshot team of young cops – was from Carnahan’s script:

“There’s an ammo team, the kind of young go-getters like the 21 Jump Street kids, and there’s still the idea of these guys being kind of 50 and maybe over-the-hill…Like that kind of stuff. There’s still all that.”

It sounds as if Carnahan’s basic framework is still there, with additional details added by new screenwriter Chris Bremner. I like a lot of Carnahan’s work, and wish he was still directing the film. But he’s also someone who isn’t afraid to stick to his guns, and that’s commendable. In addition to Bad Boys III and Mission: Impossible III, he also walked away from the Death Wish remake for similar reasons.

Bad Boys For Life opens January 17, 2020.

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