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MOVIE REVIEW: The old school 90s action comedy vibe of ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ is very reminiscent of the first film

For what it was: a traditional, classic action comedy film, ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ checks all the boxes.

I completely missed out on the third installment of the ‘Bad Boys’ series of films, the buddy cop action comedy starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. I remember seeing the first two films, but I have completely forgotten most of the details of ‘Bay Boys II’ and as the opening of ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ reveals, there are many major events that happened in ‘Bad Boys for Life’ that are sort of needed in being able to follow this fourth installment in the franchise. The details aren’t that integral to the overall understanding of the movie, but you may be surprised (as I was) about certain things like the characters played by Vanessa Hudgens, Paola Nunez, and Alexander Ludwig and that Smith’s Mike Lowrey has a son (played by Jacob Scipio).

In this installment of the franchise, Will Smith’s Mike Lowrey and Martin Lawrence’s Marcus Burnett are caught in the crossfire as their former captain, Joe Pantoliano’s Captain Howard, now deceased, appears in the film as a video and dream sequence while being set up to take the fall by the cartel. Lowrey and Burnett will have none of it and as they try to uncover who in the Miami police department is working with the cartel to tarnish the name of the captain, they end up being framed as murderers and accomplices, along with Mike’s son Armando Aretas (Scipio). Aretas is key here because he’s the only one who has seen the villain’s face (played by Eric Dane).

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star in Columbia Pictures BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE. Photo by: Frank Masi

Now fugitives of the law, Lowrey, Burnett, Scipio, and the rest of their team must work to clear their names and stop the cartel from carrying out their plans.

To further complicate things, Burnett suffers a heart attack, an experience that leaves him feeling both immortal and spiritual. On the other hand, the newly married Mike Lowrey must also deal with his own mortality and the fact that his very dangerous life means that his new wife (Melanie Liburd) maybe a widow before the end of the film. These two aspects address the fact that both lead actors are in their 50s. It adds a layer to the proceedings, one that Lawrence mines for all its comedic potential (which is golden if Lawrence’s humor is up your alley) and creates a softness for Smith to chew on for his character.

Will Smith stars in Columbia Pictures BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE. Photo by: Frank Masi

But outside of this added layer for the characters to play with, the film operates like an old-school 90s action film. It has a vibe and morality akin to the original ‘Bad Boys’ from 1995. Smith’s and Lawrence’s antics are loud and explosive. There’s a macho/testosterone-driven comedy that pervades the film’s tone. The opening scene is Mike driving extremely fast as he appears to be late to a wedding (later on we discover it is his). For a policeman, driving this fast is highly unusual, but considering it’s Miami and it’s Will Smith, the comedic tone of the film asks us to forgive their recklessness. It’s America too, so some jokes involve Smith taking out his gun and pointing it to Lawrence’s Marcus, who is annoying the hell out of Mike with his pseudo-spiritual tirades and belief in his own immortality. Some people try to stop him and call him out (thankfully) but Lowrey quickly hushes them down. He’s a cop so he’s allowed.

Martin Lawrence stars in Columbia Pictures BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE. Photo by: Frank Masi

This 90s era morality and humor runs through this film but with the directorial styles of Adil & Bilall, it has a pace and an energy that is fit for the TikTok generation. The film’s editing is fast, leaving very little moments to ponder on mortality or morality. The film is jumping from plot point to plot point, from Martin Lawrence joke to Will Smith action pose. When the guns start blazing, it’s loud and geared for excitement. The best fight scenes, though, are given to the younger actors of the film. Jacob Scipio’s Armando engages in an exquisitely brutal fight scene in a prison involving weights, hitting hard and impressing. Meanwhile, Dennis Greene, who plays Marcus’ son-in-law, gets a really nice fight scene mid-movie that plays off like a video game.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star in Columbia Pictures BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE. Photo by: Frank Masi

In fact, aside from social media videos, ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ also takes a lot from video games as it captures a segment of the final face off in the style of a first-person shooter game.

In all honesty, ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ is not my kind of movie. It absolves its heroes of their most toxic traits because they are the good guys as well as it glorifies and romanticizes the violence that the good guys take to solving the problem. But as I was sitting in a packed theater while watching this movie, I also noticed the laughter from the people around me and the electricity in the theater that showed that this dynamic still has a lot of juice left in it. The fact that it takes the old-school route showed that they knew their market and what it took to keep them happy.

For what it was: a traditional, classic action comedy film, ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ checks all the boxes. And just in case people have not forgiven Will Smith for slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars, well, that’s referenced in the movie too (and it got the loudest reactions from the audience).  

My Rating:

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is now showing! Check showtimes and buy tickets here.

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Bad Boys: Ride or Die
Action, Crime, Thriller
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