FILM REVIEW — “Boys” are still pretty “Bad” in a good way

Published 12:02 am Friday, June 7, 2024

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“Bad Boys: Ride or Die”

Columbia Pictures

Directed by Ardil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Starring Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jacob Scipio, Dennis McDonald, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Nunez, Eric Dane and Joe Pantoliano

Rated R

3 Stars

“Bad Boys for Life” was released in January of 2020, making it one of the last genuine blockbusters before the pandemic shut down movie theaters around the world.

Despite this obstacle, it still went on to be the year’s top movie and the highest-grossing film in the franchise.

What I’m trying to say is that people love them some “Bad Boys” movie fun, which was in ample evidence earlier this week at the overbooked press screening of the fourth installment of the franchise, “Bad Boys: Ride or Die.”

The audience cheered from the opening movie title card right up until the final credits rolled. I must admit their enthusiasm was infectious, and I totally bought in to their love for the movie.

That’s a good thing, because the film does take a while to get going. We begin by getting reunited with Miami police detectives Mike (Will Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence). It’s Mike’s wedding day, but the celebration is interrupted by a medical emergency that will soon have Marcus reevaluating his zest for life.

That’s all well and good, but it’s not what we expect from one of these movies. The main action plot begins when the FBI announces that the former Miami PD captain (Joe Pantoliano) was working with Mexican drug cartels.

Anybody who’s seen the previous movie knows the allegation isn’t true, and it causes our heroes to investigate. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that some bad guys are trying to frame the captain, and Mike and Marcus will quickly bring them to justice.

Along the way we will catch up with some of the favorite characters from the earlier films, but also smile at a few fun cameo appearances and some meaty performances from two supporting actors.

This may be Smith and Martin’s movie, but the two best action sequences by far come from Jacob Scipio and Dennis McDonald, who we met in the last movie. I appreciate that the filmmakers know that the leads are getting a little too old to handle the one-on-one fights, so they hand it off to the young bucks, and they absolutely deliver the goods.

As for the official stars of the movie, they are still in fine mettle, with Smith looking cool and Lawrence bringing the humor. The jokes are hit-and-miss, but when they hit, they caused the audience to roar with appreciation.

I do think Martin does a little too much mugging for the camera, but he still managed to deliver some very funny moments. That being said, I wish the story was stronger.

I’m still not sure why the bad guys decided to frame the dead captain, or the real motivation of the film’s big bad. It feels like the screenwriter decided they didn’t need a coherent story, just as long as the story delivered four action set pieces and plenty of time for Lawrence to make with the funny.

By that standard, “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” is a resounding success. What’s more, given the ascension of the two younger actors, I would be trilled to see this franchise continue for several more installments.

It’s such an appealing thought that it even has Reba McEntire singing the movie’s signature song. You know the one. “Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What cha gonna do…”

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia. Sean welcomes your comments via email at