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'Bad Boys: Ride or Die' review: Smith and Lawrence still bring the swagger in over-the-top sequel

Courtesy of Sony


Harboring the same chemistry, cheeky one-liners and profanity laced banter that propelled the action-comedy franchise “Bad Boys” into a different echelon, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are facing a different type of threat in their latest adventure: existentialism. Fresh of the successful 2020 revival “Bad Boys for Life” (what a shame this one didn’t have that title, I can see it now: “Bad Boys 4 Life”), directors Adill El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have brought back Mike and Marcus for another action-packed sequel that finds itself in the weird position of trying to revive a barren summer movie going season. I’m not sure it has that kind of pull, but there’s something inherently entertaining about these two comedic stars hurling zippy insults and realizing, almost 30 years removed from the first entry, they aren’t as young and hip as they used to be.


“Bad Boys: Ride or Die” isn’t short on outrageous set pieces either and Arbi and Fallah, who unfortunately had their “Batgirl” movie shelved at Warner Bros., inject the movie with a slick, first person energy. Some of which can give the viewer a sense of whiplash, but a slew of sequences featuring a gun fight with jelly beans flying, an albino allegator chomping up bad guys, and fan favorite Reggie (Dennis McDonald), who was introduced hilariously in 2003’s “Bad Boys II” and is now Marcus’ marine son-in-law, almost stealing the movie is exactly what you’d expect from a series that was first helmed by Michael Bay.


As for the story and what logic dictates is another thing. It finds Mike (Smith) and Marcus (Lawrence) in the position of trying to clear the name of their deceased Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano – who appears in flashbacks). After evidence surfaces of him being linked with the cartel and involved with shady business dealings, it becomes the duo’s mission to track down the ones responsible, and that includes recruiting Marcus’ incarcerated son Armando (Jacob Scipio) for insight. The partners discover a massive conspiracy that leads to them being framed by a former intelligence operative (a menacing though forgettable Eric Dane) who puts a $5 million bounty on their heads. In a blink of an eye, Mike and Marcus are now fugitives on the run. 


What “Ride or Die” might lack in the consistency of plot (side characters are introduced, like a strip club owner played by Tiffany Haddish or a brief cameo from DJ Khalid, because why not?) does stabilize when it focuses on Mike and Marcus’ evolving relationship. Early in the film, Marcus suffers a heart attack and is resurrected from the dead with a newfound mortality, while Mike is suffering panic attacks and struggling with how his job puts everyone he loves in danger. Such weighty themes are a refreshing change of pace in a film that’s bread and butter are explosions and gun fights.

And the jokes still land and prove that Lawrence and Smith haven’t lost their sizzling camaraderie. Three decades later, it’s evident these two are still having fun making these movies and giving audiences a rousing “Bad Boys” adventure worthy of the franchise. Part of me wishes the filmmakers had trimmed the fat on the plethora of subplots and silly narrative mechanics that inflate the runtime, but in an era where franchises struggle to sustain themselves, “Bad Boys” hasn’t lost its touch. Yet. 

Grade: B 


BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE is now playing in theaters. 

1 comment


Jeeino JB
Jeeino JB

what a classy movie combines adventure, comedy and suspense, I even bought my self two pillow cases inspired by Bad Boys 1 by using Sobel Westex promo code, all thanks to my niece for sending me the coupons.


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