Two men is tactical Police gear crouch down a boat dock, guns out.

Film Review: Bad Boys: Ride Or Die

Film Reviews

Bad Boys: Ride Or Die
Directors: Adil & Bilall
Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films
In Theaters 06.07

If it’s done right, the new entry in a long running film franchise can feel like familiar comfort food for fans. Bad Boys: Ride Or Die has all of the flavors you’d expect, but while it goes down easier than it may have in the past, it’s never been more stale.

Detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith, Men in Black, King Richard) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence, Big Momma’s House, Wild Hogs) have been partners in the Miami PD for over 30 years, and have been through everything together. As Bad Boys: Ride Or Die opens, they are speeding toward their most unlikely mission yet: Mike’s wedding, where he will tie the knot with his physical therapist, Christine (Melanie Liburd, This is Us, Power Book II: Ghost). After ceremony, Marcus has a heart attack during his best man speech, prompting a near-death experience where he sees their late Captain, Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano, The Fugitive, The Matrix), who tells him it’s not yet his time. Marcus recovers with a renewed sense of purpose, and as Mike begins to suffer debilitating panic attacks, Marcus is determined to use his own spiritual experience to help his partner achieve the same level of inner peace. Peace isn’t exactly what drives a Bad Boys movie, however, and when Captain Howard is posthumously framed for corruption in connection to a money laundering scheme for a drug cartel, it’s up to the venerable team of Lowery and Burnett to clear his name. As they begin to dig for clues as to who is really behind this, they become falsely implicated as well, and soon they are on the run themselves, along with Mike’s former drug kingpin son, Armando Aretas (Jacob Scipio, Without Remorse, Expend4bles), who may be the only one who can identify the real villains. 

Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who gave us Gangsta in 2018, have a flair for action, and in the last outing, 2020’s Bad Boys For Life, they nicely infused the proceedings with the slick sense of style that is the hallmark of the series without getting too carried away. This time around, the directing team has a hit movie under their belts, and they are eager to show off. The result is a big step toward the frenzied and frenetic self indulgence that Michael Bay brought to his own second entry in the series, Bad Boys II, and while it’s not as hyperactivity in your face, grotesquely violent or excruciatingly long as that film, it’s too close for comfort on the first two counts. The movie is filled with labored and gimmicky money shots, including a clear homage to Bay’s “bomb’s eye view shot” from 2001’s Pearl Harbor, and it’s distracting and obnoxious. The main saving grace to Ride Or Die is that it clocks in at just under two hours, and a fight sequences aboard a transport plane and a slam bang finale involving an albino alligator are relatively entertaining. Still, there are significant sections of the film that don’t work on any level, particularly Marcus’s out of body experience, which plays far too silly to be taken seriously yet far too seriously to stay within Lawrence’s limited abilities as an actor. 

Smith isn’t in top form here, and seems like he’s simply going through the motions, though even on autopilot he’s a charismatic leading man, and there’s enough goofy energy in his interplay with Lawrence to please fans. The dynamic between Smith and Scipio is marginally better. While the relationship, as well as the circumstances that have them working together, feel rather contrived, it’s the most interesting element of the film by default, and Scipio is a strong presence. Pantoliano is a personal favorite, and while I understand the desire to bring him back despite the character’s death in the last film, every sequence he has feels forced at best and insultingly ridiculous at worst. Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd (Hornblower, Fantastic Four) keeps with the theme of his Hollywood career by being utterly wasted as Lockwood, a smarmy mayoral candidate who is dating the new Police Captain, Rita Secada (Paola Núñez, Resident Evil), and a crass interlude featuring a cameo by Tiffany Haddish (Girl’s Trip, Night School) as a crime boss named Tabitha goes off the rails quickly and serves no purpose.

Bad Boys: Ride Or Die will satisfy devoted fans of macho, disturbingly trigger happy copapanda action, or Smith and Lawrence as a duo. Unless you fit very firmly into one of these two categories, the formula is wearing extremely thin. There’s something to be said for dumb fun, but there’s a whole lot of dumb and not nearly enough fun on display here. Bad films. Whatcha gonna do? – Patrick Gibbs

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