Traditionally, the third movie in a trilogy or longer series is usually not the best compared to the others, right?

Well, when it comes to Bad Boys for Life, returning star Will Smith begs to differ.

“I definitely didn’t think we would do it, but I absolutely didn’t think that we had it in us to make the best of the three,” the 51-year-old actor told E! News at the film’s Hollywood premiere on Tuesday, standing next to returning co-star Martin Lawrence, 54. “That’s what I think actually happened. I think this movie is, in terms of the story, the best of the three.”

Most movie critics agree with Smith’s assessment of Bad Boys for Life. The movie has earned a score of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. The first film scored 42%, while the second received a score of 23%.

The first two Bad Boys films were commercial successes. The first one made more than $141 million worldwide and was released in 1995, when Smith and Martin starred in their own sitcoms, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Martin. The sequel, Bad Boys II, released in 2003, made more than $273 million worldwide. By that time, Smith was one of the most sought-after movie actors, having starred in blockbusters like Independence Day and Men in Black and its first sequel. He was also a popular rapper.

In Bad Boys for Life, Smith and Martin reprise their roles of cops Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. A mob boss exacts revenge on the two just as they are about to retire. The movie also stars Alexander LudwigVanessa Hudgens and Charles Melton.

When asked what’s changed between the last film and Bad Boys for Life, Lawrence joked to E! News, “About 40 pounds.”

Smith said that he and his co-star have even better chemistry onscreen now, adding, “I think we’re both better as performers so we were able to find more magical moments.”

Bad Boys for Life is set for release on Friday.

Watch E! News weekday mornings at 7 a.m.!

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