Bad Boys: Ride or Die

It’s crazy to think that the original Bad Boys movie with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence first
debuted back in 1995. Twenty-nine years later and the fourth movie of the series is hitting the
big screen, and while still fun, the franchise is beginning to show its age.
This time, Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett are working to redeem the good name of their
beloved captain, Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano who returns in recorded messages and dream
sequences since his character was killed off in the 2020 film Bad Boys for Life). The Bad Boys get
caught up in a conspiracy that sends them on the run with only a few close friends and family
members to rely on.
Bad Boys: Ride or Die doesn’t try to do anything groundbreaking; it knows the formula of Will
Smith and Martin Lawrence have wonderful chemistry together as buddy-cops, and it leans
hard into its stars to carry the film. Martin Lawrence is having a blast as Marcus Burnett and
creates one of the biggest laughs of the movie after he has a near-death experience and
believes he can’t be killed. Will Smith, though, seems to almost sleepwalk through the film and
doesn’t bring his usual charisma, humor, and swagger. Also disappointing is the one-note
performance of Rhea Seehorn (Kim Wexler in Better Call Saul), who plays Judy Howard, the
daughter of the deceased police captain. It’s frustrating to see such an incredible actress
sidelined with so little to do.
No one comes to a Bad Boys movie for depth, but writers Chris Bremner and Will Beall can’t
keep a consistent voice. They swerve from jarring violence to jokes about Skittles and gas
station hot dogs to comments about rampant police corruption and how the villain of the film
was radicalized through torture. Plus, casually dropping a line about how the world changed
after 9/11 doesn’t flow in a movie featuring a 16-foot albino alligator named Duke and
characters who shoot guns while jumping sideways.
The film has some good laughs and some decent action, but the constantly moving and
hyperkinetic camera along with rapid-fire editing are distracting and even confusing at times.
The camera flies, spins, twists, loops, and circles nonstop; it’s trying to be flashy just to show
off. The film is enjoyable enough, but it feels very safe and never tries to do anything new or
interesting. This film isn’t going to restore Will Smith’s stature in Hollywood, but there are
worse ways to spend 119 minutes.
Grade B-

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