Bad Boys: Ride or Die – Movie Review

Posted by Eddie Pasa on June 5, 2024 in / No Comments


Rated R by the MPA for strong violence, language throughout and some sexual references. Running time: 115 minutes. Released by Sony Pictures Releasing and Columbia Pictures.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Sony Pictures Releasing, Columbia Pictures, Bad Boys, Bad Boys: Ride or DieThe fun doesn’t stop with Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) in their latest buddy-cop sequel, Bad Boys: Ride or Die. Not even its serious-as-a-heart-attack (pun kinda intended – there’s one of those in the movie) stakes that threaten to ruin our beloved characters can halt how much oomph directing partners Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (credited as Adil & Bilall) throw into their second Lowrey/Burnett outing. Even though a lot of it reads very similarly to the preceding film, Adil & Bilall still know how to razzle-dazzle us with kinetic filmmaking and the emotional evolution of the franchise’s central partnership over 29 years.

Lowrey’s been the pro since the beginning, both on the job and with the women; we may have seen him entertaining masseuses, therapists, or even Burnett’s younger sister, but his dedication to his work kept him from anything more permanent. But that’s about to change with his upcoming wedding to new love Christine (Melanie Liburd); with this comes the unwelcome side effect of panic attacks, in combination with the trauma suffered in the previous film. On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, Burnett has been and always will be the warm family man and comic foil to Lowrey’s shenanigans. As the loudmouth of this duo, Burnett still has that “Quit messing up” voice of experience to counter Lowrey’s wry jokes and mannerisms. Thankfully, nothing has changed with their relationship or with each other (except for Tasha Smith replacing Theresa Randle as Theresa, Burnett’s wife), so reuniting with them after four years feels more like a yearly party instead of a catch-up slog. Smith and Lawrence slip into their roles with ease and little fanfare; watching them mix it up in their own idiosyncratic way has almost become comfort food over the years, and their camaraderie doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Sony Pictures Releasing, Columbia Pictures, Bad Boys, Bad Boys: Ride or DieOnce again, Adil & Bilall take over for the master of disaster, Michael Bay (who cameos again), and inject high-flying style into… well, kinda damn near the same movie as the last one. Starting immediately with Lowrey speeding through the streets of downtown Miami and moving onto a blessed occasion, followed almost immediately by a life-threatening hospitalization… yeah. There’s some rinse-and-repeat here, bolstered here by more callbacks to the 1995 original and the 2003 sequel; the opening convenience store gag serves as treat for the fans, foreshadowing of events to come, and warning sign for the road ahead, in that we’re going to be seeing a lot of the “old reliable” when it comes to Lowrey and Burnett. But seriously, that’s all right; once the expository first act is out of the way, the rest of the film gleefully wrecks shop with serious stakes and gets right to business with every gun blazing.

This time, instead of our boys being front and center, we find the late Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) in the spotlight after evidence is unearthed linking him to drug cartel operations and damning him as corrupt. Of course, Lowrey, Burnett, their entire Advanced Miami Metro Operations (AMMO) team, you, and I all know it’s a load of doodoo, but there’s seemingly no way to stop Howard from being the fall guy, especially since he’s not here to defend himself. Or is he? Spurred on by messages sent after the bad guys trip a failsafe, Lowrey and Burnett pick up Howard’s personal corruption investigation where he left off, leaning on old friends and newfound family – specifically, Lowrey’s son Armando Aretas (Jacob Scipio) – to clear Howard’s name. Screenwriters Will Beall and Chris Bremner (the latter returning from Bad Boys For Life) also magically retcon Howard’s assassination at the hands of Aretas, bending our perceptions of the event to fit the villains’ purpose here.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Sony Pictures Releasing, Columbia Pictures, Bad Boys, Bad Boys: Ride or DieSpeaking of which, the villains are just about as nondescript as you can possibly get – a bunch of hulking bad guys with black hat hackers who can ruin someone’s life by respectively pulling a trigger or clicking a mouse. As the media is only too easy to manipulate these days, this group of mercenaries has Lowrey, Burnett, and Aretas marked as wanted men, framing them for murder and putting a bounty on their heads. We don’t get to know any of them except team leader James McGrath, whom Eric Dane instills with just enough of a personality to let you know he’s not someone you want in his sights. His limited time makes him a little more scary because the script doesn’t overplay him; he’s devoid of any development other than “get the job done,” ice-cold and near-psychopathically willing to kill anyone in his way. The manner with which he disposes of a banker and his mistress gives him the definition we need to carry on with him as the Big Bad, but that’s about as much as you’ll get from Beall and Bremner.

Thanks to them keeping things mostly simple and accessible, the story goes down smoothly and leaves a lot of room for Adil & Bilall to thrash us with the volatile action and hilarious repartee we expect from a Bad Boys movie. In the best of the franchise tradition, Lawrence keeps the overexpressive Burnett’s mouth running amid gunfire; it’s who he’s always been, but it’s exacerbated even more thanks to something Howard tells him from beyond. As per usual, Smith can be counted on to anchor the shoot-‘em-up sequences with the mix of charisma and physicality that makes Lowrey the magnet of these films. Surprisingly, Burnett’s son-in-law Reggie (Dennis Greene) is given something to do other than being the butt of passing jokes; he’s also the reason you’re going to want to see this movie in a packed theater. YOU WILL CHEER, DAMN IT.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Sony Pictures Releasing, Columbia Pictures, Bad Boys, Bad Boys: Ride or DieMark my words: This is the best of the series since the original. Adil & Bilall keep the action going full-tilt for almost the whole movie, aided by smashmouth lensing by Robrecht Heyvaert and some fabulous drone photography that adds hair-raising tension and excitement to a club shootout and the wild finale. While Bay’s first two films laid the groundwork, this directing team improves upon their previous installment by taking a cleaner route, dispensing with red herrings and diversions while delivering magnificent set piece after magnificent set piece. The overedited, megabudget excesses of the first two films are dialed back in favor of more grounded, organically-laid action; this film wants to move, and it does so without slow-motion overload or unnecessary explosions. And with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence together again, Bad Boys: Ride or Die is a perfect summer thrill ride, packing the kind of adrenaline that’ll make you want to step on the gas full-throttle on the highway after you leave the theater.

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Eddie Pasa

Eddie is a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Since starting in 2010 at The Rogers Revue, Eddie has written for Reel Film News (now defunct), co-founded DC Filmdom, and writes occasionally for Gunaxin. When not reviewing movies, he's spending time with his wife and children, repeat-viewing favorites on 4k or Blu-Ray, working for rebranding agency Mekanic, or playing acoustic shows and DJing across the DC/MD/VA area. Special thanks go to Jenn Carlson, Moira and Ari Pasa, Viki Nova at City Dock Digital in Annapolis, Mike Parsons, Philip Van Der Vossen, and Dean Rogers.

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