Bad Boys: Ride or Die – Film Review

‘Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What You Gonna Do?’ is the opening question from Inner Circle’s famous song from the TV show Cops and Bad Boys fans will be thrilled that the song makes a re-appearance in this fourth instalment of the franchise with a Miami dancehall style remix by Sean Paul and there’s also a country version by Reba McEntire! After 30 years, however, the question on everyone’s lips will undoubtedly be whether this franchise has run out of steam. Thankfully, Bad Boys: Ride or Die delivers more of the same wise cracking buddy cop chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, that audiences will expect, with side splitting, over the top antics and zany camerawork for some ideal Friday night fun at the movies, summer blockbuster style, to enjoy with the largest crowd possible.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is a fast paced ride, although its length is felt at times, through the heart of Miami that pays homage to its predecessors with its stylish, glitzy scenes of Miami’s high rise buildings, wetlands and beaches. Equally, the film nods to those 90s action packed car chases and Michael Bay’s earlier Bad Boys filmography with its chaotic, hand held cinematography and gravity defying angles, which lean on the side of gamification, at moments, but add to that overall amusing aesthetic. Indeed, there are some notable and unexplained changes, but the film celebrates its outlandish nature fully. It is also satisfying to witness the film’s acknowledgement that Smith’s Mike Lowrey and Lawrence’s Marcus Burnett are an ageing pair within this genre, talking about their next phase in life, as they fight the good fight once more against drug cartels but suspicions inevitably fall upon them.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys: Ride or Die
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys: Ride or Die

With references to PTSD and Lawrence’s Marcus’ preference for a soft life, it may seem that this dynamic duo is considering retiring their badges. Yet, Lawrence and Smith demonstrate that they still have what it takes to keep audiences engaged – although, this film, compared to its predecessors, will require that occasional suspension of disbelief as its tone differs with its decision to lean into spirituality and mysticism, which may yield mixed reviews. However, this departure in tone is saved by its connection to an overall theme of loss that reverberates throughout the film via flashbacks. Audiences need not be too concerned with this new direction as there are sufficient explosions, thrills and spills to excite and the energetic music recreates the Bad Boys franchise’s legacy of positive vibes.

Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have returned to direct this latest edition of the franchise and allow some of the peripheral characters to have their moment to shine. Expect some scene stealing moments of recognition for characters that fans have grown up with, that will elicit many triumphant cheers. Yes, the plot may be simplistic, but the action scenes are never simple with drones employed and claustrophobic close ups highlighting every bead of sweat from the actors! Lawrence also holds his own with genuinely hilarious quips as that supportive friend and that ‘ride or die’ whilst Smith delivers more gun-toting, high intensity action sequences. Lawrence as Marcus is also the best advert for enjoying Skittles and soda, which have centre stage laugh out loud moments, too!

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys: Ride or Die
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys: Ride or Die

Whilst there may be a nostalgic hue within Bad Boys: Ride or Die, references to the current age of social media and the digital world are also evident, which even includes blink and you’ll miss it social media and sports cameos! This is a thrillingly wild, adrenalin ride with neon colours to match, in nightclub scenes, which may border on the predictable but remains enjoyable. Those club scenes may also be a nod to locations within the John Wick films and there are many other references, embedded within the film, to the renowned action sequences of the John Wick franchise.

Similar to John Wick, there are equally those emotional glimpses of the bonds between family and friends that motivate this duo. But not all of these ties are entirely convincing and fail to provide the requisite emotional gravitas. Instead, gripping moments of action-fuelled tension are created, which will breathe new life into the franchise and ultimately pave the way for a new generation of crime fighting lieutenants to emerge. Indeed, should Lawrence’s Marcus’ new found philosophical musings and his love of the soft life prevail and result in his retirement, Bad Boys: Ride or Die would definitely be a fitting, crowd pleasing end to this era of the Bad Boys franchise.

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