The Spool / Movies
Bad Boys: Ride or Die would’ve been better off letting the franchise do the latter
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are way too old for this shit.
Similar28 Weeks Later (2007), Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), No Good Deed (2002), North by Northwest (1959), Shooter (2007), The 39 Steps (1935), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), True Romance (1993),
Watch afterAvatar: The Way of Water (2022),
MPAA RatingR
StudioColumbia Pictures,
2.0
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Two questions face most rational people when confronting the existence of Bad Boys: Ride or Die. To the first, why did the filmmakers give it such an anonymous title? Especially while the previous installment had the seemingly more apt name Bad Boys For Life? For that, there is no answer. To the second? Yes, there is a joke involving Will Smith and someone getting slapped. And, yes, it is just as smug, stupid, and predictable as one would fear. The one compensating factor is one can describe the film as smug, stupid, and predictable too. That leaves hope most viewers will feel too numbed by the cacophony of crap to even register the slap gag.

The film begins inauspiciously with an extended and mostly pointless act in which Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) foil a convenience store robbery while on the way to Mike’s wedding to love Christine (Melanie Liburd). Shortly after that, Marcus upstages things by having a massive heart attack and near-death experience at the reception. Those beats out of the way, the cobbled-together plot finally kicks into gear. The local news fills with posthumous accusations that their beloved Capt. Howard (Joe Pantoliano) took bribes from cartels to allow drugs into the country. This cannot stand, of course. But when the two start an investigation to clear his name, everyone with information starts turning up dead.

Bad Boys Ride or Die (Sony Pictures)
Cue joke about the car. Cue ruckus laughter. (Sony Pictures)

The trail soon leads to Mike’s estranged son Armando (Jacob Scipio), currently in prison for all the mayhem he caused in For Life, (including killing Captain Howard). It seems he can identify the person behind the rapidly rising body count. Alas, when the two attempt to transfer him to make a positive ID, the shadowy villain (Eric Dane) sabotages the flight. Surviving the crash gives the three no rest or comfort. Immediately, they’re pursued by fellow cops, federal marshals led by Howard’s vengeful daughter (Rhea Seehorn), and street gangs hoping to collect a $5 million bounty on them.

Helping them get to the bottom of things are the newly coupled fellow cops Dorn (Alexander Ludwig) and Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens). The latter’s entire role sadly consists of her either brandishing weapons or inquiring about the location of her body wash. Joining the duo is Captain Rita Secada (Paola Nunez), a former flame of Mike’s now dating a slick, rich guy with political ambitions. Ioan Gruffedd plays him, and his wardrobe consists of blue suits with red ties, so he must be on the up and up.

Bad Boys Ride or Die (Sony Pictures)
The food fights on set got WILD. (Sony Pictures)

Although perhaps not as bad as Bad Boys II (the second-worst film ever made), Bad Boys: Ride or Die is deeply forgettable. The directing duo of Aditya & Bilall try to revive the over-the-top aesthetic of 90s-era action movies like the original. Alas, the efforts to be the biggest and baddest—even trucking in a ravenous giant alligator—prove to be more exhausting than exhilarating.

The screenplay is an inscrutable mess concerned with shouting out the franchise’s dubious legacy and throwing in pointless cameos. Those celeb drop-ins include DJ Khaled, reprising his forgotten bit from For Life, and Tiffany Haddish in one of the film’s many low points. What the writing doesn’t worry about is giving viewers anything to care during the multitude of shootings, stabbings, and quips.

Bad Boys Ride or Die (Sony Pictures)
“Is this one good?” “Welllllll…”

As for the stars, Smith half-heartedly tries to bring some of his trademark swagger to the part. Nonetheless, it is obvious that he has little interest in the proceedings and is most likely doing this only as a way to shore up his box-office appeal apres scandal. Oddly, Lawrence, usually a drag in these films, is moderately more engaging for once. That’s mostly because he gets the closest thing the film has to a decent idea. Following his near-death experience, the normally reticent family man becomes convinced that he cannot die. As a result, he throws himself heedlessly into insane, dangerous situations. Perhaps not surprisingly, having established this promising conceit, the film largely abandons it.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die exists for only one reason, to make a lot of money for those involved. If the cheers from the crowd I saw it with are any indication, it may well accomplish that mission. I don’t usually care or comment on box-office results. Still, if this movie winds up selling more tickets than the infinitely better Furiosa, it will serve as another depressing reminder audiences only want films that conform to their expectations. At one point during the mayhem, our villain ruefully complains, “These guys refuse to die.” When the film arrives at its gruesomely idiotic climax, even the most devoted fans may feel much the same.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die drives recklessly into theatres June 7.

Similar28 Weeks Later (2007), Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), No Good Deed (2002), North by Northwest (1959), Shooter (2007), The 39 Steps (1935), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), True Romance (1993),
Watch afterAvatar: The Way of Water (2022),
MPAA RatingR
StudioColumbia Pictures,