Bad Boys Ride or Die Review

REVIEW: Bad Boys: Ride or Die

Releasing this week, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back for the fourth instalment in the Bad Boys franchise.

Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah return to the action following 2020’s Bad Boys for Life, picking up the over-the-top, fast-flying stunts from the opening scene. As a first-time viewer of the franchise, I found the opening 30 minutes somewhat overpowering. There’s a death hallucination sequence which is over the top, using otherworldly imagery and effects, leaving it feeling out of sync with the majority of the film that wants to be grounded in a pseudo-macho reality.

Bad Boys Ride or Die Review

Likewise, there’s a long-running gag about Lawrence’s love of sugar and another involving his past lives that run thin. I did have to wonder, are these a hangover from previous films, or just a way of gaining some spon-con money from Skittles? Needless to say, a slow-motion fight sequence involving jellybeans again ruins the brewing tension and excitement, almost feeling like a parody of a buddy cop film.

However, it’s not all sugar-induced mania. Whilst the first half an hour feels like you’ve been thrown into some sort of fun fair on speed, once the full story and mission comes to light, it’s a genuinely thrilling and engaging film.

Bad Boys Ride or Die Review

There are various outstanding fight sequences, a highlight being a mid-film prison yard scene that uses weight-lifting equipment with quite some ingenuity. From here, the hyper-violence only continues and gives us a sequence that’s the closest I’ve seen to a first-person shooter game being realised on film. Move over, Challengers ball cam, here we have gun cam.

The writing team manage to fit a lot of story into a small space of time, with nods to previous films in the franchise and tying in multiple different characters and plot lines, but it is unfortunate that a storyline around Smith’s Mike starting to face panic attacks feels like an afterthought, becoming a plot device only when needed. A real shame in an otherwise thrilling story, as this could have been genuinely interesting to follow and develop, a rare chance to look at men’s mental health in a mainstream blockbuster.

Bad Boys Ride or Die Review

The final act and battle sequence is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser, there were shouts and cheers within my preview screening. Likewise, there’s an amazing sequence following Reggie which gave long-running fans of the franchise all the more reasons to clap and celebrate.

Despite a messy start, which perhaps was more for the fans than newbies like me, it sets up the film and characters seamlessly and once we’re finally on course, it’s guaranteed to be one of the best cinema experiences this summer.

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