Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024)

by - June 7th, 2024 - Movie Reviews


Whatcha Gonna Do? Go see Bad Boys: Ride or Die, that’s Whatcha Gonna Do

Bad Boys: Ride or Die comes across as more of an overblown mid-1990s action flick than even the original 1995 hit that spawned this now four-film franchise does. Heck, a case could be made that returning directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah — the pair helmed 2020’s last pre-COVID box office hit Bad Boys for Life — are more intent on channeling their collective Richard Donner than they are in wanting to attempt a Michael Bay impersonation. This thing comes shockingly close to feeling like a goofy and jovial Lethal Weapon spinoff and, in my book, that’s a major plus.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024) | PHOTO: Sony

But gosh is this thing thin. The screenplay written by Chris Bremner (The Man from Toronto) and Will Beall (Aquaman) is noticeably threadbare, and it wouldn’t shock me if it were revealed that the duo jotted their thoughts down on a cocktail napkin and left the directors and the cast to make the rest up as shooting went along. While that statement is obviously a joke, so is the majority of this film. This sequel plays up the comedy aspects for the majority of its 115-minute running time, allowing the action sequences to hit with an extra bit of pop they likely wouldn’t have had otherwise.

This time out, veteran Miami detectives Mike Lowery (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are on the run from both the FBI and a determined U.S. Marshal after a cadre of crooked cops and politicians frame them and their beloved late captain Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano) for being dirty. Determined to prove their innocence and clear Captain Howard’s good name, the best friends join forces with Lowery’s incarcerated son Armando (Jacob Scipio), and together they’ll do whatever it takes to ferret out the bad guys.

Eric Dane is the primary villain, and for all his cocksure gravitas he’s nowhere near as threatening an adversary as Tchéky Karyo (Bad Boys), Jordi Mollà (Bad Boys II), or Kate del Castillo (Bad Boys for Life) were in the previous installments. But that’s okay. The fun is in watching Smith and Lawrence effortlessly bounce off one another. Their chemistry is as infectious as ever. Additionally, they’re not afraid to poke fun at themselves or celebrate the athleticism of their younger costars, Scipio and Dennis Mcdonald — back as a seasoned Marine and Marcus’ new son-in-law Reggie — in particular.

Bremner and Beall also aren’t above getting a little weird. Pantoliano isn’t just resurrected in a pair of video messages shot for Lowery and Burnett, but he also gets to be a messianic figure doling out advice from the afterlife after one of the two resolute heroes has a near-death experience that sends him to the ethereal plain à la Black Panther. It’s silly, but thanks to the committed performances from those involved, it’s also strangely moving, and I can’t say this turn of events was something I could have anticipated beforehand.

Don’t get me wrong. As inane as this fourth entry is, much like Donner with Lethal Weapon 3 and Lethal Weapon 4, when the time to turn up the volume hits and the opportunity to unleash a rousing actions set piece is required, El Arbi and Fallah do not disappoint. They deliver one solid jolt of adrenaline after another, filling the screen with sweeping camera movements and expertly choreographed gun fights that, while never groundbreaking, still end up being pretty darn thrilling. The entire climax set in an abandoned water park-slash-alligator zoo is particularly outstanding, including a few bits with a massive albino critter that would love to make a quick lunch out of anyone unlucky enough to find their way into its lair.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024) | PHOTO: Sony

Returning members of the ensemble (Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Nuñez) are around and do get plenty to do, but ultimately this remains a vehicle for Smith and Lawrence, and if there is an attempt to transform this series into some sort of Fast and Furious wannabe, it’s blatantly halfhearted. They’re more or less “here” and not too much else, and I can’t say any of them has a memorable standout moment.

Not that I care. I had nearly as much fun watching Bad Boys: Ride or Die as I did heading to the multiplex to see Con Air, Timecop, Broken Arrow, Another 48 Hrs., or The Last Boy Scout in the 1990s, all noticeably second-tier actioners that have nonetheless withstood the test of time. Smith and Lawrence still have charismatic juice, and El Arbi and Fallah are consummate craftsmen who deliver the goods when it matters the most.

So fans, whatcha gonna do? Go buy a ticket and have a good time, that’s what. That’s whatcha gonna do.

Film Rating: 3 (out of 4)

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