Bad Boys: Ride or Die movie poster

Bad Boys: Ride or Die

In theaters June 7, 2024

Rated

,

115 minutes

Directed by: ,

Starring: , , ,

Nearly 30 years after the original Bad Boys premiered, detectives Michael Lowery (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) return in Bad Boys: Ride or Die. The problem? Smith and Lawrence are no longer the stars they once were. Smith’s career took a nosedive after his infamous Oscars slap in 2022, and Lawrence has been largely absent from Hollywood aside from the Bad Boys franchise. In a moment that might be humorous if it weren’t so on-the-nose, Burnett slaps Lowery a few times during a shootout—a scene that Chris Rock certainly won’t find amusing.

Despite their personal setbacks, Lowery and Burnett are still the dynamic duo, mourning their beloved Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) while looking forward to better days. Lowery is about to marry his physical therapist, but things take a dark turn when Burnett suffers a near-fatal heart attack at the wedding. His near-death experience brings a bizarre vision of Captain Howard warning that “a storm is coming.” This mystical element feels out of place and muddles the narrative.

Meanwhile, a series of murders implicate Captain Howard as a corrupt cop involved with drug cartels. To clear his name, Lowery and Burnett must re-engage with Lowery’s son, Armando (Jacob Scipio), who’s imprisoned for Howard’s murder. Their mission goes awry when they’re framed for hijacking a US Marshall helicopter, leading to a confrontation with the film’s villain, McGrath (Eric Dane from Grey’s Anatomy), who will stop at nothing to silence Armando.

Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah pull out every camera trick in the book—medium shots, long shots, aerial shots, POV—using cranes, drones, and GoPros to the point of nausea. It’s as if they’re competing with Challengers‘Luca Guadagnino for the most extravagant cinematography. The blatant product placements for Porsche and Chevrolet feel like intrusive commercials. Yet, despite these distractions, the directors manage to deliver two standout action scenes, though neither involves the main stars. Instead, the focus shifts to Armando and Burnett’s son-in-law, Reggie (Dennis Greene).

The film is cluttered with too many returning characters, making it confusing for newcomers. The three screenwriters (definitely two too many) rely on flashbacks to keep viewers informed, but this approach often feels convoluted. Turning Burnett into a spiritual guide and giving Lowery panic attacks adds to the film’s disjointed nature. However, credit is due for the clever incorporation of Easter eggs and callbacks that fans will appreciate, as well as some surprise cameos, including a popular comedic actress delivering raunchy lines in a strip club scene.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is yet another unnecessary sequel. While 2020’s Bad Boys for Life was a hit before the pandemic, proving that sometimes it’s best to end on a high note, Hollywood’s relentless pursuit of profit means resurrecting faded stars and using every gimmick available in hopes of success.

At its best, Bad Boys: Ride or Die delivers genuinely funny moments and thrilling action scenes. But at its worst, it suffers from a predictable script and humor that often falls flat. For fans of the franchise, it might be worth a watch, but newcomers will likely find it a confusing and lackluster experience.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Mark Eaton
Mark is an entertainment junkie, spending much of his leisure time watching movies, TV, or listening to any and all genres of music. Most evenings, after finishing a day of work and hanging with his wife and kids, Mark can be found in an eternal battle with his DVR, trying to clear it before another 5-6 hours of shows are recorded the next day. Still reeling from his unpaid gig for the Detroit News where he was fired for being too cruel with his American Idol recaps, Mark is thrilled to be sharing his wicked sense of humor with Movie Reelists.

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