Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024)
Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024)

Genre: Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 55 min.

Release Date: June 7th, 2024 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah Actors: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Nunez, Ioan Gruffudd, Jacob Scipio, Melanie Liburd, Tasha Smith

 


 

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iami police detective Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) has started a new chapter in his life with his marriage to physical therapist Christine (Melanie Liburd), while his loyal partner Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) does too – by having a cardiac arrest on Lowrey’s wedding day, leading to a newfound lease on life, thanks to the near-death experience. Shortly thereafter, when their beloved former boss Captain Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano) is posthumously accused of doing business with the cartel, it’s up to the “Bad Boys” to clear his name. But it won’t be easy with Marcus’ dangerous delusions of invincibility, Mike’s sudden panic attacks, and his estranged, incarcerated drug-dealing son Armando (Jacob Scipio) being the only one who can identify a corrupt agent within their ranks – resulting in the trio becoming fugitives in their own state. With the aid of their current captain Rita Secada (Paola Nunez), and colleagues Dorn (Alexander Ludwig) and Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens), Mike, Marcus, and Armando must evade capture by U.S. Marshals, the FBI, and vicious bounty hunters, all desperate to stop them from uncovering the truth.

“Don’t antagonize him.” That’s a tough line for Lawrence to utter about Smith, post-Oscars-slap-incident, though this script surely wasn’t conscious (at least in the early stages) of how his real-life actions might affect the fictional character in the world of “Bad Boys.” Nevertheless, there’s something less heroic, less macho, and less sympathetic about Smith, despite the fact that his role here is not only a continuation of a long-running persona, but also an over-the-top action hero. Perhaps in the editing room, the filmmakers became hyper-aware of how his celebrity status has deteriorated; it feels obvious at times that Smith’s usual awesomeness has been reduced, his screentime somewhat decreased in favor of Lawrence’s zingers. Smith doesn’t even get a scene to do any solo ass-kicking; he’s perpetually dependent on Lawrence’s comic relief and guru-like guidance to complement his maneuvers.

As for the plot, little has changed. The recklessness of the lead duo’s police work has spilled over into their personal lives and health more pointedly than before, though it’s just as unconvincing. Once again, excessively cold, evil villains conduct themselves in blatantly evil ways; protagonists have their names dragged through the mud, framed for corruption in such unsubtle manners that characters even comment how inane it is for police bosses to use their own names and accounts for bribes; and family bonding (including activities like weddings and barbecues) and light dramas eat up screentime, reiterating the meaningless themes that are repeated at the heart of the “Fast and Furious” series, since clearly no one actually worries about familial repercussions before embarking on life-threatening hijinks. Plus, Michael Bay’s signature yet aggravating camerawork, composed of overactive, encircling movements (and a gross overuse of drones), seems to be a requirement for directors Adil & Bilall, who pick up where they left off on previous entry “Bad Boys for Life.”

They stick so closely to the formula that every scene is expected, every concept takes place in a standard order, and every outcome is predictable – right down to the overly neat and tidy conclusion. Yet its generic qualities are strangely comforting; this is exactly what audiences will expect from a “Bad Boys” picture, and they won’t be disappointed with it. It contains hackers doing complicated hacker stuff; flashbacks and references to prior episodes; gangster shootouts; oodles of rashly-drawn weapons getting thrust into people’s faces; and tons of destruction and collateral damage. Hostages are taken, antiheroes are given second chances at redemption, tough-guy routines are designed to make the good guys look cool, oversized brutes are asininely well-connected and capable of infiltrating the most heavily-guarded locations or acquiring the most top-secret intel, fugitives sneakily elude law enforcement, and John-Wick-type bounties are placed on the wrong people. And, ultimately, Lowrey and Burnett are impervious to harm. “These guys just refuse to die.”

A mid-movie helicopter sequence is the lowest point, manufactured from a ludicrously nonsensical concept full of unbelievable, poorly thought-out, badly-CG-embellished stunts. But car chases and shootouts later on are an improvement, on rare occasion utilizing video-game-like perspectives and marginally creative styling that, while not original, don’t overstay their welcome. As it turns out, however, the comedy is generally more effective than the action, particularly when the stars must shoot their way out of preposterously deadly situations; humor helps the suspension of disbelief during countless moments. In the end, it’s too long and straightforward to justify both the runtime and its own existence, what with its plain premise and zero changes to the template, but it still proves that Smith and Lawrence are a dependable action/comedy team, even if no one really needs to see this specific franchise continue on with so many sequels. “Just be nice.”

– The Massie Twins

  • 5/10