‘Bad Boys: Ride Or Die’ review: daft detectives are asleep at the wheel

Bad Boys

Miami’s finest are back. Martin Lawrence and Will Smith first played their buddy-buddy detectives all the way back in 1995, when Michael Bay directed them in the original Bad Boys. Then, this hyper-mix of action and comedy seemed fresh, if a little inspired by Lethal Weapon. After a less impactful 2003 Bay-directed sequel, Smith and Lawrence didn’t reunite until 2020’s Bad Boys For Life, a surprisingly welcome and vivacious addition to the franchise.

Now they’re on the beat once more with Bad Boys: Ride or Die – a noisy, unfunny fourth instalment that’s only made endurable by some raucous action scenes. At the helm again are Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, the Belgian (via Moroccan descent) duo who directed the last instalment. Here, they’re hampered by a workaday script, co-written by Chris Bremner, who did much better work on Bad Boys For Life.

The premise sees detectives Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) investigating corruption in the Miami PD when the late Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) is posthumously accused of sending intel to a cartel in South Florida. When they consult Lowery’s jailed son Armando (Jacob Scipio) – the main villain from Bad Boys For Life, back again – they realise Howard’s innocence. But when a set-up sees them turned into fugitives, these Bad Boys must solve the case outside the law.

While Smith returns with only his second film post the Oscars ‘slap’, he effortlessly glides back into the role of Mikey. The bigger issue is Lawrence, who is saddled with ridiculous subplots. Meant to be on a diet, Marcus is forever seeking out confectionary (he has such a sweet tooth, his password is ‘Snickers89’). From offering up $1000 for some Skittles to swallowing a black jelly bean tossed in the air during a shoot-out, it’s a running gag so lame it’s liable to give you toothache.

As the film’s title hints, Marcus also has a bizarre thing where he believes he can’t die. When he first explains it to Mikey, he puts it to the test by crossing a busy freeway without looking. “You gotta trust yourself, trust the universe,” he cries, as Mikey almost gets knocked down by the on-rushing vehicles. Needless to say, this irritating idea resurfaces time and again, to diminishing returns.

At least Adil and Bilall are on song when it comes to the action. Whether it’s a duke-out with dumbbells in a prison yard or a bloodthirsty shoot-out in a home that makes Call of Duty look PG-rated, these muscular moments give the film a decent energy shot. Eric Dane also makes for a menacing villain, his hand mangled following a grim-sounding torture known as the ‘Columbian Manicure’.

The cast is given a boost by the star power of Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig and Paolo Núñez all reprising their roles as members of AMMO (Advanced Miami Metro Operations), plus Better Call Saul’s Rhea Seehorn joining as the ballsy US Marshall daughter of the accused Captain Howard. It’s just a shame they’re all woefully underused in a story that feels so same-old-same-old.


  • Directors: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah
  • Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens
  • Release date: June 5 (in cinemas)

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