Fast Boys, Fast Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?: Our Review of ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - June 07, 2024
Fast Boys, Fast Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?: Our Review of ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’

Will Smith teams for the fourth go-round with Martin Lawrence for Bad Boys: Ride or Die. Reuniting with the Bad Boys For Life directorial team of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (simply billed here as Adil and Bilall), the film picks up a couple of years after the last film and Joe Pantoliano’s character Captain Howard’s death,  which prefilm felt like it could have been a massive absence. But a cliche made famous by the Scream franchise, combined with an overall shift in tone, set the Bad Boys off in another tangent altogether.

We open up with Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) speeding along as they are late for an event. In a direct homage to the first film, the pair get sidetracked and end up busting a robbery while continuing to bicker at each other. The event they are speeding to get to turns out to be Mike’s wedding, a day nobody thought would come for the lifelong bachelor. But during the ceremony, Marus gets a massive wake-up call in the form of a heart attack, and he gets a visit from Captain Howard (Pantoliano) while unconscious who tells him his time is not up and warns him a storm is coming. 

Shortly after recovering, news breaks that Howard is being accused of working directly with the drug cartels. Convinced that their former Cap is being set up, Burnett and Lowrey, along with returning Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens) and Dorn (Alexander Ludwig) from the special task force that debuted in For Life, set upon the path to prove his innocence. However, McGrath (Eric Dane) , a former special forces operative, is the real connection to the cartels, and he’s willing to do anything to bury the blame with Howard.

This is the first of the Bad Boys films to start to deviate from the pattern of previous entries which had been developing into a newer version of Riggs and Murtaugh from the Lethal Weapon series. This film takes a more pronounced shift towards the Fast and Furious movies in tone, with the addition of new characters, ne “family”, and more exaggerated levels of preposterousness. There’s the Randy Meeks-style “message from the grave filled with exposition”. With this and some of the logistically ridiculous events of the shootout finale, Bad Boys: Ride or Die pulls out all the stops. But none of this is a bad thing per se, depending on your feelings about the Fast and Furious movies of course. It’s fitting that the Fast and Furious films shifted from being just “car movies” around Fast Five, and here we are with Bad Boys staring down a fifth film that is already apparently in the pre-planning stages.

Unfortunately, some elements are pretty predictable too. Like what the Ioan Gruffudd character’s true motivations are, or finding a way to include Mike’s long lost son from the previous film Armando (Jacob Scipio) and setting him on a redemptive arc a la John Cena’s Jacob from Fast X. They even introduce a never-before- seen US Marshall Judy (Rhea Seehorn) who happens to be Captain Howard’s daughter and out for revenge on Mike’s son. By the end of the film, we have a small brigade joining the Bad Boys in their last fight, cementing that the series is shifting.

Despite what I said in the last paragraph, the film is still a barrel of fun. It may just be the most ‘summer popcorny’ film of the year by the end of it. There’s no point in discussing much about the original cast here, but I will say that the developments in the characters like Kelly and Dorn are very nice to see. Hudgens and Ludwig have settled in nicely to the franchise and we should look forward to their further involvement. Paola Nunez’s Rita has now taken over as the Bad Boys boss and it remains to be seen if she can fill Joey Pants’ shoes. But the biggest development has to be reserved for Dennis Mcdonald’s Reggie. Marcus’ beleaguered son-in-law has a moment, which I won’t spoil here, that is so phenomenal that it had the entire audience in my screening showering down applause. It’s something I hope they continue to develop for the next entry.

I will say that I am getting tired of the films trying to cram in reasons for Marcus’ butchering of a song from over 30 years ago, the Bad Boys series is now more famous than the song or the TV series it became famous for at this point. Alhough yes, they do have a great gag here with Reba McIntyre. But this film clearly identifies that the series has now permanently spun away from Michael Bay leading it, which is a positive after the dreadful Bad Boys II. Bad Boys: Ride or Die is non-stop fun from the get-go to the point where audiences will await what happens next.

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"Kirk Haviland is an entertainment industry veteran of over 20 years- starting very young in the exhibition/retail sector before moving into criticism, writing with many websites through the years and ultimately into festival work dealing in programming/presenting and acquisitions. He works tirelessly in the world of Canadian Independent Genre Film - but is also a keen viewer of cinema from all corners of the globe (with a big soft spot for Asian cinema!)
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