Bad Boys: Ride Or Die – Review

Do you want to hear something completely insane?

Bad Boys: Ride or Die might be the best film in the franchise. Sure, that’s mighty tall talk for a series with a movie like Bad Boys II. But in this modern landscape of action films that are more gun-fu than anything else, directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah capture a throwback nature with this action flick. The bombastic style goes over the top and firmly tells the audience you’re watching an action movie. That’s a refreshing feeling. The script and story follow up on Bad Boys: For Life with the death of Captain Howard. This time, he’s being besmirched from beyond the grave by a group of corrupt cops and officials framing him for decades of money transfers to the cartel.

Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Nunez, Jacob Scipio, Joe Pantoliano, and DJ Khaled (yes) return from previous films. Ioan Gruffudd, Eric Dane, Rhea Seehorn, and Tiffany Haddish join them for this film. Bad Boys movies are all about the relationship between Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, though. That chemistry and comedic timing between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence is here and as good as ever. The opening scene is an A+ lesson on re-introducing characters and showing audiences what you should expect.

Old-School Action Through And Through

The action and greatness don’t just stop at the performances. The cinematography and inventiveness of two directors from the music video sphere are on point. Some absolutely magnificent scenes are enhanced by camera tricks only these two could pull off. The third act is stuffed to the brim with shots that are quite simply, cool. There’s a first-person section where a gun is tossed between Mike and Marcus, a plane crashes in the midst of the whole thing, alligators swim around, and it all culminates in a awesome character moment for Mike.

Sure, there are some silly moments. There’s stuff that doesn’t make a whole lot of logical sense. There’s even a scene that’ll make you question why Mike made a huge speech about not bringing any extra people and then a random plane pilot is with them when they make their move on McGrath and his cronies.

Those are drowned out by the sheer fun of Bad Boys: Ride or Die. The whimsical attitude that Marcus takes is represented by the entirety of the movie. At least four moments throughout the film made my press screening (notoriously hard group of people to get to pop) audience whoop, clap, and scream with laughter. The surrounding characters of Bad Boys: Ride or Die are really what hold the movie together though. Alexander Ludwig and Vanessa Hudgens don’t get much screen time, but Ludwig, in particular, holds his own and then some with the comedic timing of Lawrence and Smith.

Jacob Scipio’s Armando is sidelined for the first half of the film, and you don’t really know his motivations. However, as the film progresses, he gets the full-on action star treatment with a brutal knife fight in the third act. The balancing act provides just enough for the newer characters while still keeping the focus on Mike and Marcus that makes Bad Boys: Ride or Die so special.

My only real complaint is that the villain could have either been stronger or used a bit more time interacting with Mike and Marcus. The only interactions we get is either phone calls or in the very end of the movie. He feels like a truly ruthless, stronger villain, but it doesn’t provide enough oomph for the motivation behind what McGrath does.

Even with that, Bad Boys: Ride or Die is an exceptional entry in the long-running action franchise, and one of the best action flicks of recent memory. If you want some laughs, some emotion, and jaw-dropping action, this is the movie for you.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die releases in theaters on June 7th.

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