Bad Boys: Ride Or Die Review

Bad Boys: Ride Or Die
A message from their late former captain (Pantoliano) sets Mike (Smith) and Marcus (Lawrence) on the trail of corrupt officials.

by Nick de Semlyen |
Updated on
Release Date:

07 Jun 2024

Original Title:

Bad Boys: Ride Or Die

Maybe it’s the Florida heat, but this series about Miami cop-buddies named Mike (Will Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence) just gets ever more delirious. What started out as a flashy-but-routine police thriller got a sequel in which they invaded Cuba (this was probably the most restrained part of the film) and another in which they went up against a witch (an actual witch). Now, coming quick off the staggering success of part three, we get Bad Boys: Ride Or Die, in which, early on, Marcus suffers a heart attack and experiences a lavish vision quest, complete with magical parrot and a Force Ghost-esque incarnation of Joey Pants. Yes, Joe Pantoliano’s Captain Howard, previously a nuclear-tempered ballbuster prone to spitting lines such as, “I’ve got so much brass up my ass that I can play ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’!”, in this movie is a serene presence, guiding our heroes from beyond the grave. Just go with it…

Bad Boys: Ride Or Die

This fourquel is not art, but it does brim with brio, the kind of confidence you get after banking $427 million globally. Directors Adil & Bilall, whose Batgirl project got controversially spiked by Warner Bros., are back and throwing everything they have at it. The ensuing high-energy brouhaha involves pistol POV shots, slo-mo CG jellybeans, frequent time-lapses of brooding clouds above Dade County, a killer albino alligator, and a few other moments that would feel very at home in a superhero movie. The closest comparison, though, is the Fast & Furious franchise: with a swelling team (a lot of back-up heroes from Bad Boys For Life return) and much talk of “family”, not to mention the inclusion of a character who slaughtered multiple good guys in the last film but is now rehabilitated as a hero — it’s starting to feel like Mike and Marcus might get recruited by Vin Diesel at any minute.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence's dynamic is still sparky.

While there are some stand-out supporting faces — Dennis Mcdonald’s video-gaming Marine is the focus of the most crowd-pleasing set-piece — the busyness of it all does detract somewhat from the titular misbehaving men. The twist here is that, much like Laurel and Hardy in A Chump At Oxford, Mike and Marcus essentially switch personalities. Slick lothario Mike gets hitched and turns into a panic-attack-suffering worrywart, while eternal neurotic Marcus bounces back from his near-death experience by becoming utterly fearless. This is good news for Martin Lawrence fans — he gets the lion’s share of the funniest moments, including the glorious line, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, motherfucker!” (This is now the second Bad Boys to feature a reference to the 1968 Dick Van Dyke film.) It’s less good news for fans of Will Smith, who is a little subdued in this adventure. (And no, there’s no meta joke about the Oscars to be found.) But their dynamic, when the film slows down enough to savour it, is still sparky, the two stars’ real-life friendship glowing through.

If only Bad Boys: Ride Or Die were a little more streamlined, a little less hectic. With a slightly thin motivation — clearing the name of a man who used to largely just scream at them — the two heroes are flung all over the place, even into the bayou for one The Fugitive-riffing stretch. Most of the female characters barely get a chance to register (though Rhea Seehorn at least gets some cool tac gear to wear), and the ‘surprise’ villain is guessable before they’ve even opened their mouth. Still, these will be nitpicks for many. The Bad Boys are back. The vibe is intact. It feels like another ride is inevitable.

Scruffy and overstuffed, but contagiously good-natured. And frankly more films need to feature showdowns at abandoned alligator-themed amusement parks.
Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us