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Review: 'Bad Boys: Ride or Die'

We first met cop buddies Mike Lowery (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) in Michael Bay’s action flick hit Bad Boys back in 1995.

It cashed in on a winning formula of two, likeable cops joining forces to fight evil.

Like the Lethal Weapon series, it was set in a flashy world of wealth and coolness where everyone wore designer clothes and drove around in sports cars or tricked out trucks.  It was escapism made to fit current popular culture.

At the root of it were two protagonists who had nothing much in common except for total dedication to their jobs and unshakable loyalty to each other.  It was them against a dark, brutal world of violence and crime.

It is a franchise-friendly theme ripe for being repeated, as in the case of Bad Boys II (2003) and Bad Boys for Life (2020).

It follows the age-old logic that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

In the case of Bad Boys: Ride or Die, that means simply picking up the story where it left off in the previous installment.  In this case, our Bad Boys find themselves trying to save the reputation of their beloved boss whose stellar reputation is in the process being destroyed by a criminal cartel following his murder.

In terms of character development, we discover that Will Smith’s character is finally tying the knot, and that Martin Lawrence’s character has a near fatal heart attack at the wedding reception.  It’s a near-death experience in which he meets their former boss who informs him that it’s not his time yet, and that he has some unfinished business.  Marcus’s recovery leaves him with the impression that he is now somehow invincible, a story twist that has a ton of comedic payoff throughout the film.

He feels superhuman, evidenced by the fact that, unlike most recovering heart-attack victims, he returns to full swing action within only a matter of weeks of surgery.  As we know, movies like this can’t be bothered with the gritty details of reality, the story needs to move along without interruption.

Fortunately, with action-comedies like this, it’s all about car chases, shoot-outs and laughs.  Reality never gets in the way of that.

Once again, Bad Boys: Ride or Die serves up what fans pay to see.  The only thing missing might be the over-the-top action direction of Michael Bay who helmed the original installment. 

He’s a hard act to follow and the movie gives him a well-deserved nod in a brief cameo appearance, driving a sports car.

Fans of the series will enjoy the return of Jacob Scipio playing Mike Lowery’s incarcerated son who is nicely written into the storyline of this script.  No spoilers.

All in all, Bad Boys: Ride or Die is a solid summer movie for everyone who enjoys the series.  It’s a great vehicle for Martin Lawrence in particular, who steals every scene he’s in with his exaggerated facial expressions and spot-on delivery and timing. 

It’s fun just watching him have fun with this role.  He even gets to bitch-slap Will Smith four or five times in a row in a scene that seems possibly intended as a jab at Smith’s infamous Oscar moment with Chris Rock.  To his credit, Lawrence pulls it off, making this one of the funniest scenes in the movie.



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