‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ is a Feast for the Eyes

Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would still be talking about Bad Boys after all these years, and yet here we are. It’s mindboggling that the franchise is legally old enough to drink, with the first film coming out back in 1003, and that it’s still bringing in the audience and amassing a small fortune worldwide, but something seems to be working for this Sony picture. With the series standing at $840 million globally across four films (one of which was released just before the global lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic) and a spin-off television series, L.A.’s Finest starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba, there’s something special about the world of Bad Boys just people can’t get enough of. The newest installment, Bad Boys: Ride or Die, arrives in theaters this weekend, and is ready to prove that there is still plenty of life in this franchise, as this is easily the best film in the series to date.

The unique directorial style of the duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who also helmed the previous film in the franchise, Bad Boys for Life, the canceled Batgirl film for HBOMax, and two episodes of Ms. Marvel for Marvel Studios, is unmistakable in this threequel. Their fresh approach breathes new life into the screenplay by Chris Bremner (Bad Boys for Life, The Man from Toronto) and Will Beall (Aquaman and Zack Snyder’s Justice League). 

The familiar faces of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return to the franchise, leading a crew of Miami’s finest, including Joe Pantoliano, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, and Paola Núñez. The cast is rounded out by Eric Dane, Jacob Scipio, and Ioan Gruffudd. This ensemble, along with the crew, is set to deliver a visually stunning film that could be the highlight of your year.

[Editor’s note: There are spoilers from Bad Boys: Ride or Die below.]

Big changes for our Bad Boys

Over the course of twenty years, Detectives Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) have experienced so much change, yet a lot has stayed exactly the same. Marcus is still the foul-mouthed comedic relief of the duo, who is always looking for his next snack and annoyed by those holding the desserts hostage. Mike is the no-nonsense badass, who loves his job as much as his friends and family.

Bad Boys Ride or Die
Marcus (Martin Lawrence) and Mike (Will Smith) in Bad Boys: Ride or Die. Image courtesy of Sony.

But finally, in his 50s, Lowrey’s life is looking a little different because he finally found someone worth settling down with, Christine (Melanie Liburd). However, life can never go quite so smoothly for these bad boys, as one of their own is been accused of police corruption. The late Captain Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano) was always there to keep Mike and Marcus in line when he was alive, so it’s only right that the detectives clear his name and stop any tarnish that comes to his legacy, but they won’t be doing it alone. Fellow officers, Kelly (Hudgens) and Dorn (Ludwig) believe in Howard’s innocence as well, lending their talents and expertise to help solve the case.

Investigating police corruption is already a dicey subject for active detectives, painting a target on their backs both internally and from the Romanian Mafia in which Captain Howard was said to be working for. In the midst of their investigation, Mike and Marcus are burnt, set up by those in power, forcing them to become fugitives with the law. To get to the bottom of the conspiracy, they’ll have to work outside the law, but not without some help from friends and enemies alike. 

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is visually stunning

I can’t imagine a single person walking out of the theater after their showing of Bad Boys: Ride or Die and not being blown away by the visuals. What Adil and Bilall have created in this film is nothing short of remarkable, from their use of color to the incredible camera work. It seems wild to say that the fourth film in a long-running action franchise is one of the best-looking films I’ve seen in a while, but it’s absolutely true.

 I love a film that embraces colors because it allows for a more vibrant world that feels vastly more realistic than bland and bleak cinema. This was something I loved in The Fall Guy and it’s something that stuck out to me here. Some of the film takes place on an island, which is bursting to life with green vegetation, that feels like you can reach out and touch it. One of the shots from the first scene features a ginger ale bottle that looks like it was the best bottle of soda I’ve ever seen, as the light shone through the bottle, giving off a greenish tone. It was instances such as these that made Bad Boys: Ride or Die pop off the screen, providing so much for my eyes to devour.

When it came to the action shots, the audience was smack dab in the middle of it all, thanks to some impressive camera work. The final action sequence alone jumps out as an impressive feat of cinematic work. At some points in the sequence, you experience the action from a first-person shooter perspective, and at other times, the camera is fluidly zooming around the room, taking you from person to person. The quarters of the shot are tight, so how they made it look so easy, speaks to the vision and work of our directors. Bad Boys: Ride or Die reaffirms that fans took a huge loss when Warner Bros. decided not to release Batgirl, as Adil and Bilall are directors in their own league.

Some gags just go on too long in this Sony film

Bad Boys: Ride or Die does so much right in the film, between the visuals, the story, and the acting. Truly, there is so much to enjoy about the film, and I bet most people will have a good time seeing it. That being said, there are a few gags throughout the film that feel like they go on too long, all in an attempt to get another laugh from the audience. Specifically, Marcus’ prophetic declarations, which by the midway point felt overused. 

However, to even complain about this one aspect feels like a nitpick, as the film has plenty of other jokes, which received roars of laughter from the crowd. Paired with everything else that Bad Boys: Ride or Die does right, a few gags that go on a bit too long and be overlooked, for the bigger picture is one of the best action films of recent years.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is one to be seen in theaters

I cannot stress enough that Bad Boys: Ride or Die isn’t a film that you’ll want to miss on the big screen. An action film of this caliber has to be enjoyed in the cinema, as a television screen on your first go-around just won’t do it justice. The acting from leads Smith and Lawrence continues to be right on the mark, bringing the laughs and the yelps of excitement, which makes for a fun movie. If you’re looking for a film that will keep you on the edge of your seat and actively engaged, then this is the perfect film to see this weekend.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die arrives in theaters this Friday. 

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