Keith’s Movie Korner: ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ Suffers on Life Support

By Keith Walther | Rose Law Group Reporter

Instead of remaining an entertaining action trilogy, a fourth film is added, overstaying the franchise’s welcome. “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” is a buddy cop sequel that is a shadow of what it used to be, but still generates enough half-hearted chuckles and explosions to make audiences think they’re having a good time. The story is weak and unimaginative, and its two aging stars no longer have the fiery energy to elevate the production.

The consummate bachelor Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) is finally settling down, and the festive marriage day takes a turn when his partner Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) suffers a massive heart attack. After his near-death experience, Marcus has a new philosophy on life of fearlessness, celebrating his rebirth on the ledge of the hospital roof in his revealing gown. He’ll need this new outlook after the unorthodox detectives learn of a conspiracy to besmirch their former captain, who was killed by a cartel hitman and Lowrey’s son, Armando (Jacob Scipio).

As the inseparable pair look to clear their beloved captain’s name, they uncover police corruption that reaches to the highest levels. Not knowing who to trust, Mike and Marcus assemble a small team to go after McGrath (Eric Dane), the stereotypical ruthless villain who will stop at nothing to undermine the investigation. If going against McGrath and his goons wasn’t challenging enough, they must also deal with crooked cops and a U.S. Marshall with an itchy trigger finger, further narrowing their chances at survival.

Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah also directed the previous installment, “Bad Boys for Life,” which incidentally would have been a more appropriate title for this fourth film. Unfortunately, the title isn’t the only mistake these directors make. They craft an action film that has been done repeatedly, using a paint-by-numbers approach that is devoid of creativity. This yields an overly predictable sequence of events that culminates in a climax that was all but revealed in the first 30 minutes of the film. Basically, “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” is another lazy, churn and burn action movie that goes through the motions along a well-worn path.

On the upside, these directors still infuse the production with tried-and-true comical interactions between the two leads that are worthy of limited laughter. Using the heart condition element to generate some dietary tension and comedy for Martin Lawrence’s character was a nice touch. In addition, they incorporate decent visuals including some eye-catching camera shots and angles that enhance the action scenes, including a cool first-person point of view sequence.

It is unquestionable that Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have terrific on-screen chemistry, allowing them to play off one another quite well. Despite the comical banter between the two, the energy in their performances seems to be diminished. At times, through the course of the film, it was evident Will was going through the motions, not really committed to giving any additional insights into his character. Martin was sluggish during the action scenes, understandable for the almost 60-year-old actor, but this does lower credibility. However, he puts considerable effort into his comedic line delivery that lands more often than not.

Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Nunez, Eric Dane, Ioan Gruffudd, and Jacob Scipio round out the more predominant supporting roles. While each of them may have exhibited talent in the past, the lack of character development made their performances purely one-dimensional. Rhea Seehorn, best known for her work in “Better Call Saul,” was completely forgettable in a role that should not have been created in the first place.

As the fourth film of the franchise, “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” is clearly the worst and will likely sour future sequel plans with an underwhelming box office showing. It also relies too heavily on viewers having watched and remembered the previous trilogy, bringing back characters and plot lines that aren’t sufficiently explained for newcomers. This is not the summer blockbuster the third film was in 2020. You’ll be better off staying home and revisiting the previous movies, which are far superior.

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June 2024