Bad Boys: Ride or Die Review: Action-Packed Buddy Cop Comedy

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star in Columbia Pictures BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE. Photo by: Frank Masi

Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Bad Boys: Ride or Die is the fourth movie in the long-running buddy cop action comedy series starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. This series kicked off in 1995 and then saw a sequel in 2003, both directed by Michael Bay. In 2020, we saw the third movie, Bad Boys For Life, and now we have another one, directed by Adil & Bilall. This is an action-packed, wonderful sequel that perfectly matches a new style with the classic Bayhem of the originals.

We’re back in Miami, and like Bad Boys For Life, we start off with Mike Lowrey (Smith) driving a car way too fast, much to the chagrin of Marcus (Lawrence) in the passenger seat. They’re on their way to a new chapter for Mike. One of the best things the two new Bad Boys movies have done is mature the characters. They’re still bad boys, but they’re older, and their priorities have changed. They’ll still banter and try not to get killed like usual, but Bad Boys: Ride or Die acknowledges how much they’ve grown since that first film nearly 30 years ago.

Adil & Bilall prove themselves to be more than worthy successors to Bay. They handle Bad Boys with an incredible style, putting the camera in inventive places. At times, it can sometimes be overdramatic with its stylization. But if that’s not the most accurate description of Bay, I don’t know what is. It’s a bit more fantastical than we’ve seen in this series, but it works. Their films also contain more maturity, emotion, and a cohesive narrative than Bay’s work while retaining the high-octane action. Bad Boys: Ride or Die definitely goes a bit more bonkers than its 2020 predecessor, and it’s all the better for it.

The action is superb throughout the film. This directing duo seems to have their finger in the pulse of what makes action dynamic and exciting. Those who watched Bay’s 2022 movie Ambulance will know he made extensive use of drone shots. These two keep up that Bayhem tradition with a good amount of drone shots too. There are some fantastic camera movements, including one first-person shooter (FPS) shot and a shot featured in the trailer where Mike tosses the gun to Marcus, and the camera remains attached to the guns. Between this and George Miller’s Furiosa, it has been a wonderful time for creatively directed action sequences in movies.

For example, the first big set piece happens in a colorful art gallery. This team knows how to give us new, interesting things to look at, spicing up every scene at every turn. Later in the movie, there’s an action sequence on a plane that may be an all-timer for the franchise. It’s nuts, and it’s fun to see other characters like Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens) and Dorn (Alexander Ludwig) return for more action. Charles Melton is notably absent, but with his latest role in May December, I suppose he’s moved on. There are some other fun surprises, particularly one sequence that involves an unexpected character kicking a lot of ass.

As for the story, we have the boys’ deceased Captain Conrad (Joe Pantoliano) being framed for working with the cartels. Mike and Marcus know he’s innocent, and they then receive video messages from Conrad, revealing clues they’ll need to clear his name. It can be a bit cliché to have a character who died in the last movie return via videos and an “If you’re seeing this, I’m dead” message. Hell, Scream 3 did this years ago. But Bad Boys: Ride or Die has no shortage of clichés, which is a weak aspect of the film. The final act includes a done-to-death action movie trope that even this same series has committed multiple times.

Soon enough, Mike and Marcus find themselves framed and on the run alongside Mike’s son, Armando (Jacob Scipio). The bad guys, led by McGrath (Eric Dane), order a hit on the two heroes. This is where Bad Boys: Ride or Die becomes Angel Has Fallen meets John Wick with a buddy cop twist. The threat feels more imminent in this film. The heroes are in over their heads in a situation out of their control. McGrath is definitely one of the best villains in the series. He doesn’t have the personal connection to Mike that the Bad Boys For Life villains had, but it’s very clear how much his traumatic backstory led to shaping the ruthless person he would become.

It’s a fascinating choice to bring back Armando. He is the villain of the last movie and he performed horrible acts, like killing Captain Conroy. This movie needed to repurpose his character while also not forgetting what he did. It does a great job of that, and the father-son relationship between Mike and Armando is a strong suit. Overall, Bad Boys: Ride or Die sticks the landing. It’s on par with Bad Boys II and Bad Boys For Life in quality, bringing in the right amount of emotion and excitement into a franchise that coasts on Smith and Lawrence’s hilarious, dynamite chemistry and carefree over-the-top nature.

SCORE: 8/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.

Disclosure: ComingSoon attended a press screening for our Bad Boys: Ride or Die review.

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