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Bad Boys: Ride or Die

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Photograph: Frank Masi/Sony Pictures Entertainment

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, whatcha gonna do? Much of the same actually

If you go into Bad Boys: Ride or Die expecting a meta Will Smith Oscar slap joke, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. Instead, the fourth instalment of the series, directed by Bad Boys For Life duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, plays the franchise playbook to a tee: bickering buddies; exploding cars; over-the-top gunplay; filtered Miami skies; loved ones in peril; Mark Mancina’s insistent theme tune. It’s the formula as advertised but Ride Or Die gets by on the well-honed dynamic between its two likeable stars.

Before it settles into its well-rehearsed moves, the film does pitch a curveball. In a bold move for a Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster, the film opens with Martin Lawrence’s Marcus Burnett suffering a heart attack, dying momentarily and entering into a dreamlike afterlife (you can tell the filmmakers are Belgian) where he meets the late Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano). Once revived, Burnett feels free and immortal. But, with Burnett testing his theories by wandering into traffic, it’s an extended joke that never really lands.

When the plot shows up, it’s a tired affair as Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Burnett have to clear the name of Howard, who is posthumously being framed for being in league with a drug cartel, forcing our heroes to work outside the system (if you can’t guess the Big Bad from the get-go, you’ve never seen a movie before).

It gets by on the well-honed dynamic between its two likeable stars

While eschewing the lurid elements of the Michael Bay films (ogling bikini clad women) Adil and Bilall, who earned a groundswell of goodwill when their DC Batgirl film was shelved, amp up the ‘Bayhem’, the camera swirling and swooping, the cutting getting ever more frenetic.

The action – from a shootout in an art gallery, to a fight in a helicopter, to a chase in a burning van, is decent if unsurprising. The best set-piece places Lowrey and Burnett as onlookers watching Marcus’s son-in-law Reggie (Dennis Greene, who first appeared in Bad Boys II) on a video screen niftily taking down bad guys during a home invasion.

The film is at its most entertaining when it’s a showcase for Smith and Lawrence’s easy chemistry, whether improvising a Reba McEntire country song to appease some rednecks or bantering about Burnett’s bad eating habits during a convenience store hold-up. They’re eminently watchable. Then again, when the highlight of an action movie fourthquel comes with the two stars watching a younger man do his stuff, it might be time to call it a day. 

Out in the UK now. In Australian cinemas Jun 6 and US theaters Jun 7.

Ian Freer
Written by
Ian Freer

Cast and crew

  • Director:Bilall Fallah, Adil El Arbi
  • Screenwriter:Chris Bremner, Will Beall
  • Cast:
    • Will Smith
    • Martin Lawrence
    • Alexander Ludwig
    • Vanessa Hudgens
    • Tiffany Haddish
    • Joe Pantoliano
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