Filmhounds Magazine

All things film – In print and online

Bad Boys: Ride Or Die (Film Review)

3 min read

Sony Pictures Releasing

No one asked for for Life, 2020's follow-up to the Bad Boys duology 17 years prior. But, as far as early noughties revivals go, it was pretty good – dialling down the bombast and excess of Michael Bay's style for a more slick, mature reinvention of the franchise's tenets. It worked and now Bad Boys: Ride or Die is here to prove that lightning can, in fact, strike twice.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are the obvious draw and their bubbling chemistry is as captivating as ever, but the real stars are Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah, the Belgian directing duo behind Bad Boys for Life and Ride or Die, who understand this franchise's psychology in a way that makes it sizzle. As they did last time, they know what parts to swap out and what parts to keep, and have engineered a formula that — in many ways identical to the third film — brings out the best of Bad Boys and continues to keep it relevant and fun in the cultural zeitgeist. 

Picking up where we left off, Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) are still reeling from the death of their beloved captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano). But when he's framed for a botched cartel job, the pair set out to save his reputation. Of course, it's never simple with the two of them and they're soon entangled in a web of deceit that runs far deeper than they ever imagined; threatening to derail both of their careers. It's not a particularly new conceit and the script recycles every trope and cliche in the action/police procedural rulebook — the twists are glaringly obvious, the plot devices clunky and the dialogue exposition-heavy — but the commitment to the gleeful absurdity of it all and to delivering sheer fun makes for thoroughly good popcorn entertainment.

With each instalment, Bad Boys gets ever so slightly closer to the Fast and Furious model. A suspension of disbelief is required with these films now (although there are no space antics with Bad Boys quite yet) and each entry is a greatest hits mega-mix of sorts, taking the tried-and-tested approach of not only its predecessors but other carnival action films too. Ride or Die (funnily enough, also Dominic Toretto's catchphrase in Fast) has the dysfunctional family camaraderie, the fast cars, and the zippy one-liners but it's elevated by its fizzy action. The camera work is dynamic and each sequence is gorgeously helmed; less gratuitous than Bay's choreography but also more competent than a Fast X set-piece. Lorne Balfe's thrumming score is a brilliantly infectious backing track that adds so much momentum.

All of which is to say that this is more of the same. Smith and Lawrence, 55 and 59 respectively, are still trading blows and dodging bullets with impressive conviction, and while the script's winking self-reflection on their mortality and age adds a nice levity to the proceedings, it probably can't see them through too many more of these movies. But it's a testament to the old adage of “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” because this film is nothing if not fun. It may be less bad boys and more mischievous men but they've still got it and Bad Boys Ride or Die is an absolute blast from start to finish — a thoroughly boisterous and delirious shot of pure summer adrenaline. And if Adil and Billal can maintain this stylised irreverence and joie-de-vivre, audiences will welcome the soon-to-be pernicious pensioners with open arms.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die releases in UK cinemas on June 5