Everything Action

Action news, reviews, opinions and podcast

Review: Bad Boys: Ride or Die

One of the few fun things about 2020 was that Bad Boys for Life brought back the duo of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence for a surprisingly fun and funny new entry in the Bad Boys franchise. While Bad Boys: Ride or Die is not quite as good, it is still an action-packed, hilarious time.

Picking up four years from the end of Bad Boys for Life, Mike Lowery (Will Smith) is finally settling down, marrying his physical therapist Christine (Melanie Liburd). Shortly after the wedding Mike and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are shocked to learn that their late friend and captain, Conrad Howard (Joe Pantialiano) is being posthumously accused of being corrupt and working for the cartels, with several bank transaction and other evidence linking him to the crimes. Marcus and Mike refuse to believe it and set out to investigate themselves, eventually forced to go on the run with Mike’s son Armando (Joe Scipio) when the real villains behind the plot frame them as well, with Armando being the critical link to knowing the identity of the mastermind. The plot isn’t going to win an award for originality and there are some extremely obvious twists that you’ll see coming as soon as certain characters are introduced, one new character in particular. It also feels like you’re waiting for Mike and Marcus to catch up to the audience, as we see early on that Eric Dane’s James McGrath is the main villain behind things, but most of the movie is them trying to uncover that fact. The plot in most Bad Boys movies is usually just a skeleton to hang action sequences and comedy beats on, and Bad Boys: Ride or Die does that part well, keeping things moving and making the movie breeze past.

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith continue to have exceptional chemistry, bouncing off each other as well as any of the other entries in the franchise. There’s a fun inversion to their usual dynamic where Marcus, who survives a heart attack early on, feels invincible and becomes the reckless one. At the same time, Mike, now with the responsibility of marriage, begins to hesitate and has panic attacks. After almost 30 years with the duo, it’s fun to see them flip their usual roles, and it adds some new, hilarious beats to their banter. They also continue to feel like actual characters that you can care about, which was one of the most shockingly effective parts of Bad Boys for Life, and not the over-the-top cartoon characters of Bad Boys II. Eric Dane is a solid villain, feeling like the dark version of his character from The Last Ship, and proceeds on his plan with ruthless efficiency. The one major disappointment for me was Rhea Seehorn, not because she was terrible but because she barely had anything to do. After seeing her excellent performance over the years in Better Call Saul, I was excited to see her in a massive action blockbuster, but she disappears for large chunks of the movie and only gets to glower, which seems like an enormous waste for someone with her talent. It also doesn’t help that her character has maybe been referenced but has never appeared in the franchise before, so there’s a lot of telling and not showing about her relationship and history with Mike and Marcus. There are similar issues with Melanie Liburd’s Christine, who just gets dropped in at the beginning of the movie and hasn’t been built up or established before, but we suddenly need to care about her relationship with Mike and believe he loves her so much he’ll start getting panic attacks thinking about losing her. If there had been more to the character, it probably would have worked better, but she’s pretty thin and becomes a damsel in distress. The returning characters are all solid, like Paola Nunez, Alexander Ludwig and Vanessa Hudgens and Jacob Scipio gets to dig into more of what makes Armando tick after being the villain of the last movie. One of the best surprises is Dennis Greene as Reggie, who has been a frequent source of humor in the previous two films but gets a chance to shine in one of the movie’s best action sequences, utilizing his skills as a Marine.

Speaking of action, directors Adil & Bilall continue to bring some impressive and creatively shot action, including excellent use of drones to fly around and give an overview of the action playing out and then swooping in and around the action that, makes it feel much more dynamic. There are some great sequences throughout, like Marcus and Mike trying to survive a crashing helicopter and Marcus, Mike, and Armando getting chased in a van increasingly engulfed in flames. The finale at an abandoned alligator-themed theme park is excellent, utilizing drones, explosions, and some incredible first-person POV to significant effect. Reggie’s showcase mentioned above also feels right out of John Wick, and the choreography on display is fantastic. The comedy of the franchise is also interwoven throughout all the action, making you laugh as much as you are thrilled as Marcus and Mike banter while getting into shootouts and car chases.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die continues the solid revival of the Bad Boys series that Bad Boys for Life started in 2020, and I think I slightly prefer that entry over this one. Ride or Die is still a ton of fun, but the plot feels more formulaic, even by Bad Boys standards, and some of the characters are underwritten and underused. If you liked Bad Boys for Life, you’d enjoy Ride or Die as well, and given how well it’s been doing in theaters, I would be more than ready for another entry in the series.

Where to watch Bad Boys for Life

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *