bad boys mike and marcus prepare to storm the docks of the antagonist

‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ Breathes New Life to the Franchise

Reviewed by Chris Corey
June 10, 2024

Bad Boys: Ride or Die

★ ★ ★

The cop movies in the Bad Boys series are all about action and odd-couple police partners bantering the whole time. In this installment, it generally works well and serves up an entertaining popcorn-muncher especially if you’re already a fan of the series.

It’s a cop-buddy film in which two heroes bicker with one another, beat up bad guys, expend a great deal of ammo and blow up a lot of stuff. Though fans of the series – and movies similar – have seen this before, the franchise’s latest entry manages to keep it just as fun as the 1995 film that started it all.

Bad Boys Mike and Marcus stop a convenience store robbery un tuxedos

Mike and Marcus stop a convenience store robbery.
© 2024 Sony Pictures Entertainment

Our two detectives are Mike Lowrey (Will Smith), the smooth operator of the duo, and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), a goofy family man with a penchant for complaining.

It starts off like the previous three films, riding in Mike’s brand-new Porsche, racing through the streets of Miami while Marcus complains about his driving and threatens to vomit all over the expensive custom leather interior.

It turns out Mike is racing to be on time for his own wedding. At the wedding, there’s a nice beachfront ceremony and an awkward, reminiscent toast by Marcus, the best man. Moments later, Marcus collapses from a heart attack, later labeled a “widow maker.”

Martin Lawrence as Bad By Marcus Burnett both guns outstretched in a night club

Martin Lawrence as Marcus Burnett in a night club.
© 2024 Sony Pictures Entertainment

We then journey with Marcus on a strange, near-death experience, which steps completely away from the established style of this franchise, where he’s told by their precinct’s deceased Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano), “It’s not your time.” Marcus wakes up in the hospital with a new zest for life and the belief that, at least for a while, he can’t die.

While Marcus’ near death experience serves to give Marcus a silly new quirk, it never weaves deep enough into the story and mostly serves “something’s not right with him” dialogue. It does add some additional humor to the action sequences, but this story line’s lack of completion is a letdown.

will smith as bad boy mike in action

Will Smith as Mike Lowrey in action.
© 2024 Sony Pictures Entertainment

The plot is simple. Captain Howard is posthumously accused of aiding the Columbian cartel. Mike and Marcus refuse to believe the captain was dirty and intend to prove his innocence. They receive a video message from Howard, pre-recorded in the event of his death, that sends them on a path to retrieve a set of files that can exonerate him and catch the bad guys behind it all.

Finding the files is just the beginning of proving Howard’s innocence and each step Mike and Marcus take toward solving the case leads them into one action scene after another in which things rarely go according to plan.

Standing in the way of justice is James McGrath (Eric Dane), a former DEA-agent-turned-cartel-asset, who desperately needs his crimes to be pinned on Captain Howard. He’s a capable antagonist with an endless supply of soldiers to throw at Mike and Marcus.

The film works because it generally doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is – a good buddy-cop action comedy. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and still manages to further the development of the characters through their arcs in the franchise.

Bad Boys mike and marcus on the streets of miami in front of mike's blue porche

Mike and Marcus on the streets of Miami.
© 2024 Sony Pictures Entertainment

Some of the cinematography is out of place and threatens to cheapen the look and feel of the film.

For instance, a shot from inside Marcus’ wristwatch – looking through the hour and minute hands – was an unnecessary attempt at adding a style perspective that does more to pull us from the story than serve it. Mike’s first-person perspective near the film’s played more a video game than a film. Fortunately, these shots aren’t overly prevalent in the film, but when they are there, they don’t fit.

If there’s anything to learn in this movie, Reggie (Dennis McDonald), Marcus’ active-duty Marine son-in-law, must be allowed to “cook the chicken” – a reference to the conclusion of one of the more humorous running gags in the film. He needs a larger place in any future films this franchise puts forth, because when he springs into action, he’s a lot of fun to watch.

Despite the familiar territory, Bad Boys: Ride or Die is a good time at the movies, even more so if you’re already an initiated fan of the franchise.

Rated: R (Some Sexual References, Language Throughout, Strong Violence)
Running Time: 1h 55m
Directed by: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah
Written by: Chris Bremner
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Marcus Burnett, Vanessa Hudgens, Eric Dane

Action, Comedy

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