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Bad Boys: Ride or Die Review: Action Packed Delight

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith are on the ground talking in the film BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back and better than ever in Bad Boys: Ride or Die, which is filled with epic action and laughs.

Directors: Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Run Time: 115′
US Release: June 7, 2024
UK & Irish Release: June 5, 2024
Where to watch: in theaters

Quite a bit has changed since audiences last saw Mike Lowrey (Will Smith, of King Richard) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence, of the television series, Martin) on the big screen. Bad Boys: Ride or Die brings the police detective duo back with a bang. This film primarily works because Smith and Lawrence have the kind of chemistry that you cannot easily find.

What also helps is that even though the narrative does borrow from its predecessors, this is not strictly a retread. Our main characters are placed in a situation that viewers have never seen them in, and we get interesting arcs all around as a result.

The action and comedy that this series has become known for is here in droves. Bringing back Adil & Bilall, who directed 2020’s Bad Boys for Life was a terrific decision because these men clearly have a blast making these films and love figuring out how to top themselves. All these positives help make the fourth Bad Boys installment such a joy to watch.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die centers on Detectives Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) trying to clear the name of the late Captain Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano, of The Matrix) after he is implicated in a Miami Police Department corruption scandal. As they investigate, Mike and Marcus find themselves going from cops to fugitives and must solve the case before it is too late.

Will Smith and Martin Lawerence are the obvious highlights of this film as usual. However, Lawerence turns in what could be his finest turn as Marcus Burnett to date. He is given this material and just soars from the opening scene until the credits roll. While his individual arc is not the strongest, Marcus is exceptional at furthering the overall story and the arcs of other characters. He also provides a large amount of the biggest laughs that Bad Boys: Ride or Die has to offer. Will Smith’s Mike Lowrey, on the other hand, is once again handed a dramatic arc with a dash of comedic moments throughout. These characters and their actors truly balance things out and play off each other. The buddy cop formula is not new, but few duos can hold a candle to what Smith and Lawrence do in this film and throughout the franchise.

Martin Lawrence shoots in the film BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE.
Martin Lawrence stars in Columbia Pictures BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE. (Frank Masi, © 2024 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

This narrative can play like a best of compilation at times but hey, why mess with what works? With that being said, Mike and Marcus are placed in a compelling situation once they become fugitives. We also get solid arcs for Mike and his son, Armando Aretas (Jacob Scipio, of Expend4bles) who is serving a prison sentence for the crimes he committed in the previous film. Their arcs are so intricately tied together, and it is enthralling to watch the father and son develop a relationship with each other. Scipio really finds his footing in this massive franchise, giving audiences a new outlook on this character. He has done horrible things, but who is Armando really? We get to dive into that question and Scipio shows off a serious amount of charm that will remind you of a young Will Smith.

Speaking of, Will Smith’s Mike Lowrey gets an arc that feels like the ideal continuation based on where we last saw the character. In Bad Boys for Life (2020), Mike was shot, by his own son no less, and Bad Boys: Ride or Die does not have him go back to being his usual self, at least not always. This is a man that has been through the wringer and is still trying to pick up the pieces, even if he hides it well. How he goes about that is a major lynchpin of this story and gives viewers something new to focus on in between the usual action and comedic banter.

The element of Mike and Marcus being on the run is cool, even if it is technically a trope which viewers have seen elsewhere. It presents them with a new challenge in many ways and makes you genuinely wonder if our protagonists will be able to figure their way out.

When it comes to action sequences, Adil & Bilall are not Michael Bay and that is a good thing. Bay’s action sequences from 2003’s Bad Boys II on, with all due respect, tend to be straight up nonsense all the time. Even though this film has its fair share of ridiculousness, what Adil & Bilall do alongside cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert is fresh and slick. So many of these moments will be memorable for several reasons, including the blending of comedy amid hails of gunfire.

Martin Lawrence may get the bulk of the comedic opportunities and excel, but he is not the only person or thing that will make you laugh here. Indeed, this film has an endless number of jokes that should cause you to howl in your seat. One of my favorite moments left me leaning forward and lightly stomping my feet. It was so unexpected, hilarious, and I cannot wait to see the reaction it gets from longtime fans.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die Trailer (Sony Pictures)

If there is one drawback to Bad Boys: Ride or Die, it is that the main antagonist is quite lackluster. Eric Dane (of Euphoria) portrays Banker and does all he can with him, but there just is not anything notable about him. In fact, I am still not entirely clear on what his motivations were. He certainly had them, but they are not very complex, and this character comes off as your average run of the mill psychopath. While one could argue this is a standard practice for this franchise, the villains of the three prior films at least had a memorable moment or two. Banker is forgettable and it is such a shame.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is sure to be a crowd-pleasing action film this summer. Even if the villain could have been handled better, so much is done well that you will hardly worry about it. The action is awesome, the jokes are hysterically funny, and Will Smith and Martin Lawrence once again bring their A game.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die will be released globally in theaters on June 5-7, 2024.

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