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“Bad Boys: Ride or Die: A Lackluster Return of the Dynamic Duo”

The adrenaline bar is set high in the latest installment of the ‘Bad Boys’ series, ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die,’ promising insane shootouts involving choppers and an abandoned alligator park infested with toothy reptiles. Yet, despite such thrilling scenarios, the fourth installment of this iconic buddy action-comedy franchise lacks the essential secret sauce to keep audiences engaged.

The movie opens with Mike Lowrey (played by Will Smith), who has matured since we last saw him. He is preparing to marry his therapist Christine (Melanie Liburd), and the distinction is made clear that she is a physical therapist, not a mental health professional. This detail is one the film amusingly emphasizes. During the eventful wedding, Mike’s long-time partner, Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), suffers a heart attack. This scare results in Marcus experiencing enlightenment from the great beyond, leaving him a changed man. His wife, Theresa (Tasha Smith), decisively supports his newfound resolve by banning all salty snacks from their house and embracing a vegetarian lifestyle to aid in his recovery.

However, Marcus’ heart issues quickly become secondary when the plot pivots back to the action. Their once-beloved, now-deceased captain, Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano), is posthumously accused of corruption and taking cartel money. Conrad mysteriously leaves a message from beyond the grave, hinting at a dirty cop within the Miami Police Department. Determined to clear Conrad’s name, Mike and Marcus take on the investigation.

The duo is not alone in their quest. They are joined by their colleagues from the Miami Police Department—Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens), Dorn (Alexander Ludwig), and Rita (Paola Núñez). Also adding depth to the ensemble is US Marshall Judy (Rhea Seehorn), who also happens to be Conrad’s daughter seeking justice for her father.

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. In a twist, Mike’s son Armando (Jacob Scipio), currently incarcerated for Conrad’s murder, holds vital information crucial to unearthing the truth.

Further complicating matters is the looming political drama involving Lockwood (Ioan Gruffudd), who is not only running for mayor but is also Rita’s latest romantic interest. Adding to the gallery of antagonists is the menacing Army ranger, McGrath (Eric Dane), whose ferocious demeanor makes it clear that he is up to no good.

Smith and Lawrence’s chemistry continues to offer comedic relief, with riffs that include amusing jokes about reincarnation, notably a running gag about Mike being a donkey in his past life. However, this comedic interplay turns monotonous quickly, bringing unfortunate echoes of the infamous Oscars slap incident involving Smith. The high-octane action sequences, characterized by a video-game-inspired shoot ’em up style, initially captivate the audience. These scenes, including confrontations with lively and lethal crocodiles, provide a visual feast, but one soon finds their mind wandering to more thrilling action sequences seen in other films, such as Lokesh Kanagaraj’s ‘Leo,’ which offer a far more engaging and heart-pounding experience.

The ‘Bad Boys’ franchise has had a long run since its inception nearly three decades ago, with the first film directed by Michael Bay debuting in 1995. Interestingly, Bay makes a cameo in ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die,’ a nostalgic nod to fans of the original. Yet, it seems the franchise might have overstayed its welcome. What once was a fresh and electrifying saga of camaraderie and high-stakes action now appears weary and stretched thin.

While ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ continues the legacy of Mike and Marcus’s never-ending escapades, it is evident that perhaps it is time for this 30-year-old franchise to be laid to rest. Whether this will be in peace or in pieces lies in the hands of the Hollywood prospect agents and financial planners who will decide the series’ future based on its box office performance and overall reception.

Currently running in theaters, ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ offers die-hard fans of the series a nostalgic ride with familiar faces and antics but fails to deliver the fresh excitement that defined its predecessors. As the franchise contemplates its future, audiences may well prepare themselves to bid adieu to these bad boys who appear to have finally met their match against the tides of time.

World cinema
English cinema