Bad Boys Ride or Die – REVIEW

Bad Boys Ride or Die - Will Smith returns in a 4th film
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star in Columbia Pictures BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE. Photo by: Frank Masi

Bad Boys Ride or Die continues the trend for meaningless title monikers rather than calling it what it is….Bad Boys 4 this latest films sees Will Smith as cop Mike Lowrey return with Martin Lawrence as his Marcus Burnett but now without  their revered potty mouthed boss Captain Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano) shot dead and Lowrey’s long lost son Armando (Jacob Scipio) is banged up in prison. And its their old captain that’s being framed for corrupt money laundering something which the Captain was only too aware of having pre-empted his own death and filmed several videos clips for his Bad Boys to dig out the real bad boys in the force.

But it is not before Lowery has got married in a plot device that will obviously see his new wife in jeopardy later in the film ( one of several standard thriller plot twists that the film can’t resist) when he and Burnett hunt down those that have framed their late boss. And into this the buddy cops see attempts made on their own lives by the bad guys led by McGrath (Eric Bane) a violent ex-military man and his sidekick, the obligatory heavy sett henchman.

It’s a story that be seen many times before but here attempts are made to humanize the pair of them beyond their action slapstick schtick. Burnett has a near fatal coronary at  Lowery’s wedding where in a afterlife sequence he meets Captain Howard who tells him that it is not his time yet. It sees Burnett return with a sense of immortality that sees him testing the theory and walking through a speeding car strewn freeway. And as for Lowery he develops anxiety issues breaking out into the sort of sweat that Prince Andrew can only dream.

The Bad Boys franchise has very much become a black variation of the Lethal Weapon films and this franchise is going the same way, opening out the Bad Boys universe and introducing new characters clearly intended for future sequels and here we have Alexander Ludwig as a cop with techno know how, Jacob Scipio who looks like he could well be taking more significant role if not the lead role should the franchise extend to Fast & Furious extremes. It’s not without its issues – the storyline has been seen an endless number of times in other police thrillers and the women are reduced to back ground dressing.

However as an actioner and directed once more by the duo Adil & Bilal there are several exhilarating set pieces the best of which is one set onboard a helicopter hurtling out of control with the pair inside. There’s also a tremendous stand alone actioner with Burnett’s prospective son in law, a marine, who defends the family in a home invasion sequence. And there’s a whole load of inventive shots here with the camera flying around changing perspective often within the same shot. It the sort of inventive technical flair that they demonstrated in their earlier film ‘Gangsta’ a Hollywood calling card of a movie that served them well and their fandom of all things  Michael Bay that sees them grant him a fleeting cameo.

Since Will Smith snatched failure from the jaws of victory at the Oscars he’s not made a feature film since and this is his first one since and is very much aimed at a demographic that are either not aware or don’t care about his award ceremony slapfest. It’s his one franchise that is probably safe because as good an actor as he has shown himself to be in films such as ‘Ali’ and of course ‘King Richard’ quite whether that audience are ready to turn out for that type of drama is, at present, unlikely. So Bad Boys Ride or Die is likely to be the beginning of a hoped for comeback via blockbuster summer actioners and might explain why ‘I am Legend 2’ begins filming shortly. What we would really like to see explained in a future Bad Boys films is just how Smith’s cop affords a high end Porsche  on a cops wage……now there’s a story for any fifth film surely.

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Here’s the Bad Boys Ride or Die trailer……


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