Bad Boys: Ride or Die review

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Movie: Bad Boys: Ride or Die

Production Company: Columbia Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films

Director: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

Producers: Doug Belgrad, Chris Bremmer, Jerry Bruckheimer

Main Cast: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence

Release Date: 5th June 2024

Running Time: 115 minutes

Certificate: 15

Introduction: Will Smith and Martin Lawrence continue to bounce off each other with the latest Bad Boys entry, which proves there’s still some fuel left in the tank.

Synopsis: When Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano), former captain of Miami PD, is framed for corruption, Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) must fight to clear his name.

Analysis: Long-running franchises are always a risk in Hollywood. Some know when to stop, yet others do not (much to the annoyance of critics and audiences alike), and some are far better than others. However, I do admit, I have had some fun with the ‘Bad Boys’ films. Whilst they are far from reinventing the cinematic wheel and are unquestionably flawed, Smith and Lawrence’s boisterously comedic chemistry combined with watchable (and occasionally quite impressively practical and death defying) action make for some anarchic fun (it is soon to be a billion dollar series after all). And thus, I went in to ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ slightly worried they may have gone too far. I had a ton of fun with this and was left genuinely surprised and impressed by how amplified and orchestrated the action has become, certainly when compared to it’s predecessor. It is the best one so far and my favourite but, in reality, that is not saying much.

Despite a plot that feels as though it were scraped out of the bottom of a barrel and quite a clear indication that they are running out of ideas, the film manages to just about pull if off by the skin of it’s teeth. In most ongoing sagas or franchises, central protagonists (who you’ve been with for however many films and years so it makes it even stupider since you know it is out of their character) who are framed for whatever crime is always a last resort in cinema and an idea that is arrived upon when you’ve done and tried everything else, even if it makes no sense. It then falls upon the film to try and make the most of it, even though the sense of desperation is overwhelming and blindingly clear (one final attempt to milk as much money as you possibly can).

Thankfully, this does a better job than most I have seen but still falls under that umbrella. This is also the first time in four years Martin Lawrence has appeared in something big (the last one was the last installment in 2020, these clearly being the only thing he has left), so if that is not a sign, I don’t know what is. Smith, on the other hand, is my favourite actor and I could just about watch him in anything. With Ride or Die, Adil El Arbi and Bilal Fallah were able to inject (rather successfully it must be said) some ‘Fast and Furious’ and ‘Mission Impossible’ DNA into the film, giving you the price of your price admission with some pretty astonishing set pieces that I was enthralled by (perhaps this is what these films needed).

Any film that is able to call those to mind has my gratitude and respect, as, whatever quality they may be, they are undeniably the highest water mark in the action genre. Not only did I think the spectacle and carnage on screen this time is the best the franchise has had so far, but this had some of the best execution I’ve seen in any action film recently. This appeared to be one of the first films that seemed to efficiently utilize drone shots in a well handled manner during shootouts (not like those disorientating ones Michael Bay used in ‘Ambulance’) and one exhilarating first person shooter sequence certainly gives you you’re moneys worth.

A very pleasant and welcome surprise, I had a good enough time all-round. Four films now down, it is here we now arrive at the crossroads. The last film had a questionable plot that indicated the end and demise of the ‘Bad Boys’ name (again, the dilemma of figuring out where the story could possibly go) and this is arguably even more so. You’d really have to scratch your head to try and come up with more now and you wouldn’t want for things to just start feeling pointless. I should think that it is rather safe to say they got away with this one (just about), but any more would be risky. If you could find a way to bring it all to an end in a way that makes sense for the characters, then fair enough. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t doubtful.

In cinemas now.

Overall Rating: 7/10 – Respectable

Target Audience: 15+

Content Warning: strong bloody violence, language, sex references

Recommendation: Yes