Genre: Action/Comedy
Director: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah
Cast: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Núñez, Eric Dane, Ioan Gruffudd, Jacob Scipio, Melanie Liburd‘, Tasha Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Joe Pantoliano
Runtime: 1 hr 55 mins
Rating: NC16 (Violence & Coarse Language)
Released By: Sony Pictures
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 20 June 2024

Synopsis: This Summer, the world’s favorite Bad Boys are back with their iconic mix of edge-of-your seat action and outrageous comedy but this time with a twist: Miami’s finest are now on the run.

Movie Review:

Hard to believe that it has been three decades since Will Smith and Martin Lawrence established themselves as the proverbial Bad Boys, and what a three decades it has been since Michael Bay’s buddy-cop action movie that wrote the big-tentpole template at that time. And up until this latest ‘Bad Boys’, too much time used to pass between instalments that it did not make sense for them to be related narrative-wise, other than how Smith and Lawrence played the same temperamentally mismatched but eternally loyal Miami cops named Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett.

Coming off the unexpected success of the last chapter, ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ takes the story forwards by assuming you’ll remember Mike had an illegitimate son with a Mexican mob widow and the kid Armando Aretas (Jake Scipio) was a ruthless but expert assassin for the cartels. It also assumes you’ll remember that the boys’ beloved captain (Joe Pantoliano) had been shot dead by Armando, and hence the animosity between Armando and Captain Howard’s daughter Judy (Rhea Seehorn), who is determined to clear her father’s name when he is framed posthumously of being on the cartel’s payroll.

Truth be told, the plot is secondary to the excuse it gives us (the audience), as well as both Smith and Lawrence, to indulge in their incredible brand of on-screen chemistry that has been the franchise’s secret sauce all this while. To their credit, both stars take age in their stride, knowing full well that their fans from ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Bad Boys 2’ are also middle-aged at this point and how contrived it would otherwise be to pretend that they are still the bad boys from 30 years ago. So rather that assume the same bravado, both take turns acknowledging how they might be getting too old for this sh*t, and to have plenty of silly, dorky fun in the process.

That tone is established right from the start with a prologue that sees our pair of bad boys having to foil a robbery at a convenience store where they have made a pitstop at – while speeding down Miami’s roads to make sure Mike gets to his wedding on time – just so that Marcus can get a ginger ale on the way. Later that night, while dancing at Mike’s wedding party, Marcus suffers a heart attack that allows his soul to meet up with Howard, who tells him that ‘it’s not his time’. And with that, this fourquel does a role reversal, with Marcus bouncing back from his near-death experience by becoming utterly fearless while Mike endures a series of panic attacks arising from his self-imposed guilt of being responsible for Howard’s death.

Like we said, it is Smith and Lawrence who are the juice of the series, and both play off each other in absolutely hilarious ways. A gunfight in a club offers a number of amusing slo-mos as Marcus relishes the opportunity to indulge in candy and soda before openly engaging the shooters as if he were bulletproof. While on the run from the cops with Armando during a botched prisoner transfer, Mike and Marcus try to convince a couple of rednecks that they are fans of country singer Reba McEntire, before breaking out in their signature Bad Boys song. And last but not least, there is a playful nod to Will Smith’s real-life slapping saga at the Oscars two years ago just before the movie’s piece de resistance, which we dare say could only have worked with Lawrence.

Speaking of action, there is just three set-pieces throughout the entire two-hour movie – the shootout at a club set to a Barry White needle-drop; a midway sequence where Mike, Marcus and Armando have to wrestle with an out-of-control helicopter while fighting off a bunch of bad guys; and the climactic raid at an abandoned amusement park whose star attraction, an albino alligator named Duke, remains on the premises. Like they did in the last entry, directors Adil and Bilall employ plenty of camera tricks during the bang-bang gunplay, including swirling aerial shots, first-person-shooter and intense handheld close-ups. Though distracting and even dizzying at times, there is no denying that their kinetic camerawork does jazz things up visually.

If ever there was any doubt why the Belgian duo were chosen to take over Michael Bay at the reins, then ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ should dispel it entirely. Respecting both the spirit and form of Bay’s testosterone-fuelled blockbusters, they saturate the movie with neons, throw in a scene with Tiffany Hadish cameoing as a stripper with an entire arsenal in her g-string, and employ all sorts of technical flourishes that Bay would have been proud of. Both directors have openly said that they have designed the movie to be fast and to make it feel like a ride, and in both respects, they have done so in such over-the-top fashion that both Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer should be eminently proud of.

As much as it is a throwback, ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ never feels like it is stuck in the past; instead, it doubles down on the newfound vulnerabilities of Mike and Marcus, but anchors it in the easy, timeless and still-enjoyable rapport of Smith and Lawrence. And with a wink and a nod, both stars embrace their age, their double act and even their real-life personas to make their dynamic feel fresh, familiar and utterly fetching. It is a riotous triumph in our opinion, and reinforces yet again why Smith and Lawrence have every right to remain our bad boys – for life.

Movie Rating:

(Thanks to the infectious chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, this fourth chapter of the 'Bad Boys' saga is a riotous triumph of star-fuelled popcorn entertainment)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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