Bad Boys: Ride Or Die Review

Cast: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Nuñez, Eric Dane, Ioan Gruffudd, Jacob Scipio, Melanie Liburd, Tasha Smith, Rhea Seehorn with Tiffany Haddish and Joe Pantoliano

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Thriller

Director: Adil & Bilall

In Irish Cinemas: 5th June 2024


Martin Lawrence, once heralded as America’s unsung hero of broad comedy, has maintained a presence in the film industry mainly due to the enduring success of the nearly three-decade-old Bad Boys franchise. While the general public associates him primarily with this series, a loyal subset of fans still fondly revisit his 2001 adventure-comedy, Black Knight, where he starred alongside Tom Wilkinson. Now, Lawrence returns to the fourth instalment of Bad Boys, finding himself in a unique position—he appears to be in a better-standing career than his co-star, the Oscar-winning Will Smith. Smith’s reputation hit following the infamous “Slap Heard Around the World” at the Oscars, compounded by his profane outburst confirming the incident’s authenticity.

The controversy surrounding Smith led to production delays for the new film, but Lawrence and Smith are back in action as the maverick detectives Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey, roles they first brought to life in 1995. This time, however, they embrace their age, transitioning from the “Bad Boys” to the “Bad Late-Middle-Aged Men.” In a nod to their storied past and the evolution of their characters, the film concludes with a nostalgic reference to Run DMC’s classic lyrics from “Peter Piper,” affirming that they are not “bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good.”


With over 30 years of service and the actors being 59 and 55, these officers have bypassed Miami PD’s usual retirement policy of retiring at 50. However, they’ve had to confront the inevitable passage of time. Junk food lover Marcus suffers a near-fatal heart attack at Mike’s wedding to his new girlfriend Christine (Melanie Liburd) and wakes up in the hospital with a newfound, goofy spirituality. Meanwhile, Mike’s former girlfriend Rita (Paola Núñez) is now involved with ambitious politician Lockwood (Ioan Gruffudd). As for Mike, he is dealing with panic attacks caused by unresolved guilt over his son Armando (Jacob Scipio), whose dark and severe story was covered in the previous film Bad Boys for Life four years ago.


In the latest instalment, the late Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) is framed posthumously for accepting bribes, a scheme orchestrated by ruthless cartel leaders to obscure systemic corruption. Upon discovering this, Marcus and Mike must operate outside legal boundaries to bring the true villains to justice. True to form, the film is packed with extravagant, often gratuitous, action sequences, although it misses the iconic “shooting while flying sideways through the air” scenes. This high-octane style is a hallmark of producers Jerry Bruckheimer and the late Don Simpson, along with original director Michael Bay, who makes a cameo appearance as he did in the previous film. The movie is directed by Belgian filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Farrah, who previously faced setbacks due to Warner Bros’ budget cuts on their unreleased superhero movie, Batgirl.


It’s a missed opportunity not to have a Chris Rock cameo, but seeing Michael Bay and Khaby Lame pop up is still a pleasant surprise. Smith serves as the emotional anchor for the second Bad Boys film in a row. While Mike continues to deliver sharp insults at Marcus, his primary focus is on the situation with Armando. After nearly 30 years, the chemistry and comedic solid energy between Smith and Lawrence is well established, and they remain an excellent onscreen duo. In Ride or Die, there’s a role reversal this time: Marcus, instead of Mike, narrowly escapes death. This twist leads to some humorous moments, with Marcus surviving a heart attack and feeling invincible, which Lawrence portrays with gusto, resulting in many laughs as Marcus tests his newfound “immortality” in increasingly reckless ways. However, the real stars of Ride or Die are El Abri and Fallah, known as Adil & Bilall. They did an excellent job with Bad Boys for Life, capturing the exaggerated, whirlwind style of Michael Bay from the first two films while infusing it with their own somewhat looser touch. This time, Adil & Bilall genuinely let their creativity flow, starting with the surreal visuals of Marcus’ near-death experience.

Overall: 6/10

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