Joe Carnahan, who spent two years working on the movie, has opened up about his time on Bad Boys 3, officially titled Bad Boys for Life. This project has been gestating for a very long time and, at long last, we're going to see it next year as filming recently wrapped, as confirmed by stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. But this isn't going to be the version Carnahan, who was tapped to take over the franchise from Michael Bay, had worked on from 2015 to 2017. So what went wrong?

The director of movies such as A-Team and The Grey spoke candidly about his experience in a recent interview. It was made clear, even though Joe Carnahan wouldn't speak ill of Will Smith, that he clashed with the superstar and the studio, which led to him parting ways with the project. Here's what Carnahan had to say about it.

"Here's the thing. I love Will, he's a great guy. It's just, you get to a point where ... listen, I always say this. Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Will Smith, you find me a [expletive] in the modern era that's walked away from movies with those guys and is still working in some capacity. I just know myself, man. 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."

Bad Boys for Life will center on drug cartels in Mexico. Joe Carnahan will retain a writing credit, but his script didn't end up being used, at least not in the way he intended. As the filmmaker put it, his script contained "one of the best endings I've ever written in any movie." It would have involved the destruction of a billboard for The Danish Girl, an Oscar-winning drama from 2015 Carnahan really didn't like. He further outlined some of what would have happened.

Related: Bad Boys for Life BTS Video Has Will Smith Locked, Loaded & Ready to Roll

"I think we budgeted a $12 million dollar action sequence, and I think they're doing a portion of it, I had a sequence where they're on a Gunbus, which is a German motorcycle. They changed it, now it's like a sidecar, not a good idea, whatever [laughs]. It's one of the greatest."

So what did make it into the movie? What can we expect? Since Joe Carnahan is retaining a writing credit, he must have some idea what directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah wound up bringing to the table. Here's what the filmmaker offered on that front.

"No, listen, 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, and now you gotta develop a mid-range game like [Michael] Jordan, because you can't dunk anymore and you can't take anybody off the dribble. Like that kind of stuff. There's still all that... I just don't pretend to kind of, I'm not gonna bitch about it, listen, I bitched about Death Wish and then saw a residual check the other day, I was like, I said to myself, 'Shut the f*** up.'"

As best as he can, Joe Carnahan is taking the high road on this one. Bad Boys for Life is currently set to arrive in theaters on January 17, 2020. To see the whole chat with Carnahan, check out the video from the Collider Podcasts YouTube channel below.

Ryan Scott