Bad Boys: Ride Or Die review | It’s more of the same in this tired action sequel

bad boys ride or die review
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Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back policing the streets of Miami in Adil & Bilall’s new sequel. Here’s our Bad Boys: Ride Or Die review. 

Playing Mike Lowrey in 1995’s Bad Boys was one of Will Smith’s career-defining roles. He went from the goofball in The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air to a certified action star, and by the time Bad Boys II rolled around in 2003, Smith was one of the biggest names on the planet and Bad Boys became one of the biggest action franchises in modern cinema. 

The franchise got a little boost in 2020 with Bad Boys For Life, and returning directors Adil & Bilall try to once again recreate the magic with Bad Boys: Ride Or Die. It’s the fourth instalment in the franchise, and if you weren’t a fan of the first three, Ride Or Die probably won’t convert you.

Smith and Martin Lawrence are once again patrolling the streets of Miami as Lowrey and Marcus Burnett respectively. Their somewhat peaceful lives are turned upside down when they find out their late captain, Conrad Howard, had seemingly been working with drug cartels the whole time they knew him. Lowrey and Burnett’s investigation quickly turns sour and, to cut a long story short, they end up as fugitives. 

bad boys ride or die
Credit: Sony Pictures

The Bad Boys films mostly ride on the brilliant chemistry between Smith and Lawrence. Bad Boys: Ride Or Die doesn’t quite capture the dynamite energy of the two actors going back and forth. If anything, it feels a little tired, content to recycle the same jokes and ideas from previous instalments. 

Then again, maybe the issue is that there are too many ideas that don’t quite fit into the mould of the Bad Boys franchise. Adil & Bilall (real names Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah) ambitiously try something new by having Mike experience panic attacks after the events of Bad Boys For Life. In all honesty, with all that our beloved bad boys have been through, it’s a wonder it took this long. But Mike’s anxiety is mostly left unexplored, sidelined in favour of more explosions and Martin Lawrence screaming in slo-mo. 

For Smith, Ride Or Die is also an attempt to patch up his public image which took a bit of a bruising after the infamous Oscars 2022 incident. Funnily enough, the film’s main conflict involves the lads trying to clear not just their captain’s name, but their own. Coupled with Mike’s anxiety attacks, the film often feels like a carefully calculated effort to polish Smith’s image. In fact, the directors have spoken about the similarities before

Visually, Ride Or Die comes across a little gimmicky. There’s a lot of sweeping shots of Miami, which is nothing new to the franchise, but the endless drone shots are starting to feel stale by now. Adil & Bilall also put us right on the barrel of the gun with a few neat POV shots, but as a whole, Ride Or Die feels chaotic and unsure of itself. 

That being said, there is an absolute hoot of a scene that takes place around the middle of the film. We won’t spoil the scene, but it’s here that Adil and Bilall demonstrate their love for the franchise with a scene that will have fans cheering out loud. The film’s ending is also pleasantly bonkers, and it’s only in the final act that Ride Or Die feels like it’s finally found its groove. By then, though, it might just be too late.

There’s plenty wrong with Ride Or Die, but much of what’s right hangs on Smith and Lawrence. Both actors are still very much game to give their all on the screen, even if they can never match the energy of the first two films. They’ve even said there’s one more Bad Boys film in them, though no sequel has been greenlit just yet. The film lives and dies on their performances, and while Ride Or Die isn’t the best entry in the franchise, Smith and Lawrence are still very charismatic performers who are more than capable of holding an audience’s attention. 

Bad Boys: Ride Or Die is in cinemas 5th June.

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