Bad Boys: Ride or Die: Four Times A Charm

Bad Boys: Ride or Die: Four Times A Charm

The Bad Boys franchise stands out as a rare gem in the realm of movie series. What makes it truly exceptional is its evolution over time, with the fourth installment, Bad Boys: Ride or Die, taking the series to new heights. Starring the dynamic duo of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as Miami narcotics detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, this franchise has defied the odds by peaking with its latest release. Unlike many other franchises, Bad Boys didn't follow the conventional trajectory of declining sequel quality. From the explosive debut in 1995 to the less-than-stellar sequel in 2003, and then a remarkable comeback 17 years later with Bad Boys For Life, each movie has been a box office success in its own right. Now, with Bad Boys: Ride or Die, the adventures of Detectives Lowrey and Burnett have transcended expectations, solidifying their status as icons of the buddy-cop genre.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die doesn’t break new ground with its storyline. This time around, Mike and Marcus are on a mission to restore the reputation of their respected Captain Conrad Howard. The presence of Captain Howard, portrayed by Joe Pantoliano via dream sequences and video recordings, adds a poignant layer to the narrative, especially considering his fate in Bad Boys For Life. While their journey puts them on the run, it also continues the dramatic elements seen in the previous film. 

Initially, it may seem that the significant events from Bad Boys For Life are overshadowed by the focus on Mike and Marcus. However, the cleverly crafted script by Chris Bremner and Will Beall ensures that Lawrence and Smith remain at the forefront before seamlessly integrating the newer characters. As the plot unfolds, we witness Mike and Marcus enlisting the help of familiar faces from Bad Boys For Life - Rita (Paola Núñez), Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens), and Dorn (Alexander Ludwig). While the introduction of this extended team initially appeared as a mere franchise expansion tactic, it surprisingly enhances the storyline, offering standout  moments for Team Bad Boys.

Armando (Jacob Scipio), Mike’s estranged son with a troubled past, also reappears, adding emotional depth to the storyline as they navigate a complex father-son dynamic. The weight of past events, particularly Armando's dark history involving Captain Howard, looms large over the narrative, further heightened by the introduction of Howard’s daughter in a one-note role portrayed by Rhea Seehorn.

Will Smith once again takes on the role of the steady anchor, providing a dramatic backbone to the duo's dynamic. His character still delivers sharp quips towards Marcus, yet his focus is deeply entrenched in the complexities involving Armando. After nearly three decades, the dynamic between Smith and Lawrence remains strong. This time around, the tables have turned - while Mike was grappling with mortality at the start of the previous film, it is now Marcus who narrowly escapes the clutches of death.

During Mike's wedding to Christine (Melanie Liburd), where Marcus, serving as the best man, delivers a humorously mortifying speech before collapsing from a heart attack while dancing. It appears to be the end for him, underscored by a surreal sequence where he encounters the spirit of their late revered boss, Capt. Howard on a pristine beach reminiscent of paradise. Miraculously recovering, Marcus finds himself imbued with a renewed zest for life. Convinced of his newfound invincibility, he believes his purpose is to cure the spiritual suffering of others. This conviction spurs a series of comical yet touching scenarios, with Marcus testing the limits of his supposed immortality.

While the premise may seem cliché on the surface, Martin Lawrence infuses Marcus' reborn persona with a genuine and quirky charm that adds urgency and hilarity to the narrative. He becomes the ideal contrast to Mike, who Smith portrays with a timeless, stoic grace—a fiery yet suave demeanor. Together, Smith and Lawrence, sporting nothing similar but their goatees, exhibit a dynamic, prickly bromance. They do more than just bounce off each other's lines—they amplify and energize one another. 

El Abri and Fallah, better known as Adil & Bilall, truly shine in Ride or Die. Following their successful stint on Bad Boys For Life, where they adeptly captured and expanded upon Michael Bay’s iconic bombastic style, this dynamic duo has now fully unleashed their own unique flair. Drawing inspiration from animation and video games, their camera work is a whirlwind of constant movement, sweeping back and forth as though possessed by its own spirit. A particularly gripping sequence features Mike and Marcus in a life-or-death struggle aboard a plummeting plane. As they fight off attackers in zero gravity, the camera ingeniously mirrors their weightlessness, adding to the scene's intense drama.

Adil & Bilall infuse each scene with boundless creativity and vigor, mindful that Bad Boys is at its heart an action-comedy. They expertly balance explosive action with comedic elements, ensuring the laughs persist amidst the chaos. The directors also skillfully distribute action scenes among the expanding cast, featuring a remarkable prison fight with Armando and a standout moment where a familiar supporting character reveals unexpected and uproariously funny combat skills.

Building on the franchise's new energy from Bad Boys For Life, Ride or Die extracts the best elements of its predecessors and amplifies them significantly. Ride or Die might be packed with cheesy lines and some humor that falls flat, but it's undeniably fun, bursting with energy. Directed with flair and cleverness by Adil & Bilall, Ride or Die  enhances the thrill with audacious and imaginative action sequences, proving that, despite their age, these Bad Boys still have what it takes to captivate an audience.

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