Movie review: ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’

One part who-dun-it, one part spiritual journey, one part redemption arc – all Bad Boys action. Spoiler free!

"Bad Boys: Ride or Die" poster. Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return to the big screen with their iconic characters Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett for the fourth installment in this now iconic franchise. “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” released in theaters on June 7 and has stood out among recent box office flops like “IF” and “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” netting $104 million as of when this was written. 

Where does this success come from, though? What makes “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” stand out? Could it be the fact that movie-goers are happy to see another good addition to a trusted series such as the Bad Boys franchise? Or is it the failures of the other films at the box office that created the positive reception of this movie? 

By no means is this article meant to slam ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die,’ but it is quite simply just more Bad Boys – which is absolutely a good thing. 

In this trying time filled with movies that are just production company cash grabs filling the box office, it is nice to see a film that is self-aware, and this is the reason that ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ has gained the traction that it has.  

‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ is exactly what the world of cinema needs right now, and the film knows exactly what it is. A buddy cop comedy with beloved characters and a script that is funny, while also maintaining a story that viewers can actually immerse themselves  and invest in because of the characters that are involved. 

The plot is nothing special. Mike and Marcus must uncover a plot to discover who is attempting to frame their Captain, Conrad Howard – played by Joe Pantoliano. Viewers may remember previous ‘Bad Boys’ scenes and will be pleasantly surprised by a minor reappearance from Pantoliano within this film.  

This fourth installment to the series puts the boys' age on full display, even having the characters finally undergo some much needed development and growth. 

Viewers may wonder how Mike and Marcus are still  doing the classic ‘Bad Boys’ action now that the characters are just as old as the actors themselves? 

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have undoubtedly aged like fine wine, but the film actually uses their age as a plot point. Jokes and remarks exchanged between characters put the boys’ age on full display. 

And a significant plot event creates a spiritual journey involving their souls and a donkey. 

The new installment introduces a new antagonist, portrayed by Eric Dane, who some viewers may recognize from his character Cal Jacobs in “Euphoria.” 

Sadly, Dane does not get enough screen time to test his skills as an actor in the villain role, but when he is on screen it is convincing enough. Maybe sometime in the future Dane will be cast as an iconic villain and truly stretch his legs as an actor. 

Since this is the fourth film in a long running series, viewers should go into it  after watching the previous three films. Especially since this film picks up right where the last movie, “Bad Boys for Life,” left off. 

The film featured several returning characters who are important to the plot. The son of Mike, Armando – played by Jacob Scipio – was one of the previous film's antagonists. 

Throughout the film, viewers may begin to view Armando in a better light while others may have mixed feelings because of events that transpired in the previous installment. 

When it comes to returning characters, the cameos must be mentioned. There are quite a few returning cameos such as DJ Khalid, Michael Bay – who directed the first two films in the series – and John Salley, who makes a reappearance as his character Fletcher from previous films. 

There are also new cameos to keep an eye out for including social media personality Khaby Lame and rapper Joyner Lucas. 

This film is R-rated, but similar to other films in the series, it is not overly gory or gruesome – with the exception of one or two scenes. 

There is strong language throughout, but not so much that audiences will choke on the dialogue. Even though it holds an R-rating, it is palatable for most viewers. 

Martin Lawrence carried most of the comedy, as he has with the whole series. For the most part, the comedy comes off genuine and not too cheesy. There are some jokes that won’t land, but that is to be expected of any film. This film does come off as a bit more memorable and comedic than the 2020 entry ‘Bad Boys for Life.’ 

The explosions look cool and the cinematography is good, but overall it is nothing unique. This film is good because it does not try too hard to be something that it is not. The directors understood that the film’s role is to be a lighthearted buddy cop movie, and it does it well. 

‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ satiated the desire for comedy and action with a plot that isn't atrocious. If you are tired of seeing box office slop, this is just a good old fashioned dumb action movie that will appeal to a majority of audiences.

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