Tuesday 11 June 2024

Bad Boys: Ride Or Die (2024)

Most people who know me, and know my approach to viewing movies, may already know me as Kevin 7, a nickname given to me because of how often I tend to rate movies 7/10. I don't see anything wrong with that, as I have said on many occasions. I always want to enjoy every movie I watch, and few of them are truly great, so a 7/10 is a decent rating that many movies achieve if they throw in enough ingredients that I enjoy. The Bad Boys movies, now up to four in total, work hard to remain the most consistently Kevin 7 action comedy movie series I can think of, thanks mainly to the cool visuals and, most importantly, the interplay between stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

While I always try my best to avoid spoilers, this review will feature details of the previous movie in this series. It picks up some time after those events, but there is a consistency and use of important details to move things along (e.g. Captain Howard has not been miraculously resurrected, and Mike Lowery still has an incarcerated son who might one day be able to help with some major investigation).

Things all start with smooth bachelor boy Mike Lowery (Smith) finally tying the knot to a woman named Christine (Melanie Liburd). All is well and good until Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) has a heart attack. Things have to change, and stress should be avoided. Which makes it bad timing when news is leaked about the deceased Captain Howard having been a dirty cop for years. Unwilling to believe that nonsense, Lowery and Burnett end up conducting their own investigation, with a little help from beyond the grave, and they soon find themselves being framed by some powerful villains, ending up on the run with Mike’s son, Armando (Jacob Scipio). 

One or two changes aside (like Tasha Smith now taking over the role played by Theresa Randle in the first three movies), this is exactly what you expect from a Bad Boys movie. The plot zips from one enjoyable action set-piece to the next, the warmth and humour between the two leads has stayed the same since the first movie, and it’s all about the mix of humour and extremely loud gunfights. And there’s something about it not changing too much that adds to the appeal. The formula was perfectly set in the mid-1990s and seeing it play out in the same way is strangely refreshing. Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor, but maybe it’s just good to see something that isn’t trying to round off every sharp edge in an attempt to appeal to every single viewer demographic. This is aiming to please one demographic, fans of the Bad Boys movies.

Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are as arguably more confident behind the camera this time around, livening up numerous scenes with brilliantly inventive camerawork and set-ups. The script, written by Chris Bremner (returning from the last film) and Will Beall, is largely nonsense, especially when it comes to some new characters who have journeys that you can predict from their very first scenes, but it’s highly entertaining nonsense. Could more have been done with the idea that Marcus thinks himself invincible after leaving hospital? Yes. Could some non-twists have been played better? Yes. But the stars shine, and there’s one sequence focusing on a relatively minor character that feels like one of the best overdue, and unexpected, payoffs in any film series that has endured for almost thirty years already.

Smith and Lawrence could play these roles in their sleep, so it’s great to see them stay so lively and fun, both having a noticeable twinkle in their eyes as they continue their cinematic bromance through more pain, flames, and bullets. Scipio gets to do more this time around, and turns into someone who feels worthy of the arc given to him here. Eric Dane is an impressive main villain, helped by a script that makes him ridiculously well-informed and powerful until the grand finale, and there are numerous henchmen who look very capable of handling themselves in a fight until they are overpowered by our heroes. It’s good to have some screentime again for Paula Núñez, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, and Dennis McDonald (AKA Reggie), and there are fun moments for Tiffany Haddish, DJ Khaled and John Salley (both returning), and Enoch King (as a scene-stealing shop clerk). Other people are sadly wasted, including Liburd, Smith, Ioan Gruffudd, and, worst of all, the great Rhea Seehorn.

I have seen many headlines weighing up what the success or failure of this film would mean for the career of Smith. I never thought about that once while the film was playing. I thought about how much fun it was to be back in the saddle alongside Marcus and Mike, and how great it was to watch something so intent on delivering great stunts and pyrotechnics without having to layer in any meta commentary or feel as if it was apologizing for existing. None of these films are absolute classics, but they are all very rewatchable, and a very easygoing Kevin 7.


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  1. I have never watched any of these movies.

    1. They're fun, but only if you don't mind the Simpson/Bruckheimer formula, with added Bayhem and mayhem throughout the series.