In Ride or Die, we get a lot more action in the style of Fast and Furious, and a bit less of that gangster vibe, which I so associate with Bad Boys.

Marcin Konczewski

11 June 2024

bad boys

No one was waiting for them, yet they are saving the summer season at the box office. After all, they are the Bad Boys. But is it a good movie? Yes and no. On the level of a pure action flick, everything checks out. In fact, it’s better than I expected—spectacular, flashy, the pace never lets up, and the atmosphere still works. Visually, it’s more akin to the Fast and Furious sequels, defying logic, rather than the original Bad Boys, yet the chemistry between the two leads remains strong, helping to suspend disbelief. However, there’s simply too much of everything else—unnecessary characters, subplots, and cheesy dialogues between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. These are, of course, interspersed with good moments, but the sheer number of unnecessary or overly exaggerated and bad elements is surprising. The movie is still enjoyable, don’t get me wrong. It’s a somewhat successful revitalization of the dead genre of buddy comedy set in an action movie framework. I just think the material deserved better writers.

The first Bad Boys holds a special place in the heart of my generation, as well as in mine. I can confidently say that in the genre of action films with a buddy comedy vibe, it took over the mantle from Lethal Weapon. Moreover, it did so in a completely different, fitting moment in the history of pop culture that were the 90s. It’s both a synthesis of that era and a production that ages well. Interestingly, each new installment announcement was a kind of surprise, and each received love from fans and favorable reviews from critics. Especially the previous one, Bad Boys for Life, was a huge surprise and also a response to the changing reality. They skillfully played with the generational shift, maintaining the vibe and good humor. Ride or Die is similar, but this installment isn’t as good as the previous one. And although the directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah deliver high-class entertainment in terms of action scenes, the script has more mistakes and bad decisions than before. It’s not that it’s predictable, because such productions have that in their DNA. It’s just that there are a lot of silly clichés, patterns, tonal swings, and everything is almost entirely clear from the start. The villains and the crime mystery are poorly disguised, and the stakes never reach their maximum.

bad boys

In Ride or Die, we get a lot more action in the style of Argylle or Fast and Furious, and a bit less of that gangster vibe à la GTA San Andreas, which I so associate with Bad Boys. Nevertheless, the spirit of the series is maintained. The biggest problem with the film remains the excess of… everything. It’s a bit like the case of the last two Expendables movies, where more and more faces and elements are added, heavily introducing youth but sometimes doing it forcibly, as if stretching the material and screening time. It’s similar here. I already mentioned the number of unnecessary characters and uneven dialogues. The problem is also the very large number of locations, successive layers that are incredibly spectacular. It’s like in that Chernobyl meme: “Let’s add an amusement park with an albino alligator, the script can handle it!” Well, it doesn’t really handle it, in many moments it falls apart at the seams. Somehow it holds together until the end, because all the threads are ultimately closed, but it requires a lot of popcorn-induced forgiveness. Unfortunately, I sometimes lost it. I felt like I was watching a poorly written but quality, high-budget video game adaptation like Uncharted. There are even action scenes that, in terms of execution, remind me of Counter Strike (Marcus’s son-in-law is doing well!). And that’s a big positive, something different, new.

The most burning question I asked myself before the screening was: can the duo Will Smith and Martin Lawrence still deliver the chemistry that characterized the previous parts? And I must admit that in most scenes, yes. It’s weaker in some lines of dialogue, which seem a bit unnecessary, long, and out of place with the overall vibe of the specific scene. However, I must admit that the energy for on-screen antics is not lacking for either actor. There is no blatant exploitation of nostalgia or cashing in on it. It’s clear that the limit of being too old for such shenanigans is close, especially for Lawrence, but there’s a lot of sincerity. The actors play their characters like on a carousel and ultimately always come out on top, even in the face of the mentioned dialogue unevenness.

bad boys

Okay, not just them. I must point out two things that bothered me about the Bad Boys duo. Firstly, Marcus’s starting point is sometimes weird. Bold, funny, but ultimately… unnecessary. The character has a heart attack at Mike’s wedding and… dies for a moment. Of course, he’s brought back to life (plot armor is extremely strong in this series) and then starts doing strange things. Everything would be fine, even the jokes about a soul without a *dick* would make sense, if something came out of it in the end. Applying Lem’s razor here… it highlights the absolute lack of impact of Marcus’s enlightenment on events. Well, Lawrence has always served as the comic relief in this series, and since he contrasted nicely with the serious, sarcastic Lowrey, it worked as needed. Here, the writers sometimes go overboard, reducing him to a funny, silly clown with a sugar problem. Does it ruin the character? No. Scenes in the club, when he catches Skittles and sweetened drink with his tongue, will probably find their fans. However, I much preferred how the actor’s weight was handled in the previous installment. And what about Will Smith? Well… he’s Marcus. In a slightly worse physical shape, but Smith does his thing. I just don’t know where the very superficial plotline with Mike’s panic attacks was supposed to lead. Real mental issues can’t be solved by a slap in the face. It’s simply a bad message. It would have been much better without it. The subplot of working on the relationship with his son was enough, but here’s another example of the creators wanting to put too many ingredients into one cake.

I had the most problems with the supporting cast. Many characters we met in previous installments could simply not be there. Without harming the script. It’s a bit of a shame that Eric Dane’s potential as a villain wasn’t fully utilized. Up to a point, he seems really well-drawn, appropriately ruthless, calculated, and cynical. This is a guy who has his own interest and a job to do. However, he loses his advantage too easily. The logic here is limping, almost falling over. The creators don’t even try to give Lintz (Derek Russo) or Nicole (Jenna Kanell), and also McGrath (Dane), any depth. They look more like extras with a few lines of dialogue than full-blooded characters that could interest us. Moreover, the female characters are almost unnecessary here, as if added just to extend the film’s running time. The creators probably didn’t have much of an idea for female characters, as they serve more as plot levers for the main characters’ actions. Fortunately, a lot is compensated by the action itself and those chemistry moments where Smith and Lawrence succeed.

In summary, another return to the Bad Boys series gives what can be expected from a film from the world initiated by Michael Bay—a ton of escapism and pure entertainment. And if you overlook the obvious cracks in the script, you can have fun here. I had moments where I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow in dissatisfaction, but there were also many smiles and fun. It’s not a production that will change anything or stay in memory, but for fans of the genre, it’s just right.

Marcin Konczewski

Marcin Konczewski

The founder of the Kon (Horse) Movie fanpage, where he transforms into a film animal who gallops with pleasure through the multiverse of superhero productions, science-fiction, fantasy and all kinds of animations. If he had to say something about himself, he would say that Kon is a pop culture lover, a self-proclaimed critic constantly looking for a human in cinema, a fan of non games, literature, dinosaurs and Batman. Professionally, a teacher (by choice), always opposed to the concrete education system, strongly pushing alternative forms of education. He quietly writes fairy tales and fantastic stories for his little son. A Polish philologist by education. He collaborates with several publishing houses and YouTube channels.

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