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Bad Boys Ride or Die will thrill fans but the franchise is running on fumes | Films | Entertainment

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Bad Boys: Ride or Die official trailer

Bad Boys: Ride or Day proves Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are still firing on all cylinders, but the franchise as a whole is starting to run on fumes.

After bringing back Mike Lowrey (played by Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) for 2020’s belated and underwhelming sequel Bad Boys for Life, the buddy cop duo has returned hot on its tail for another rip-roaring case around Miami.

This time, the legacy of their beloved captain, Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano), is under threat when their late boss is framed for corruption by Banker (Eric Dane) and they’re forced to work outside of the law to defend his good name.

Meanwhile, Mike’s estranged and unpredictable son Armando Aretas (Jacob Scipio) could be the key to solving the case, unless a vengeful US Marshall (Rhea Seehorn) with a surprising connection to Armando gets to him first.

Once again, Smith and Lawrence front the antics with plenty of their acerbic charm and hot-headed banter, but it might be time to park this series while they’re ahead.

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith

Bad Boys Ride or Die will thrill fans but the series is running on fumes (Image: SONY)

The fourth entry in the Bad Boys franchise is undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser, as thankfully the vast majority of the gags land in amongst plenty of the usual stunts, scrapes and a dose of fan service for those still nostalgic for Michael Bay’s original entries that kicked off the series back in 1995.

Returning directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are also more confident this time around, using the tricks and visual flair they picked up working on Ms Marvel to inject the otherwise thinly conceived action sequences with some much-needed adrenaline.

At its best, cameras fly between point-of-view shots and sweeping wide angles to carry brawls, chases and shoot-outs to an exhilarating finish line, offset by a poppy, pulsing soundtrack to conjure up that rollercoaster ride feel every blockbuster needs.

More than ever, Bad Boys: Ride or Die proves these buddy flicks are ultimately slapstick action-comedies and Smith and Lawrence, for their credit, prove they’ve still got the physical chops for madcap stunts and a handful of hilarious visual gags well into their 50s.

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith

Is the Bad Boys franchise starting to run out of gas? (Image: SONY)

Punchlines come as thick and fast as the actual punches (and kicks, gunshots and car crashes) and, if a stray crack from the Bad Boys themselves sails over the mark, there’s usually more banter or action scene just around the corner to keep the energy flowing.

At its worst, however, which sadly occurs a little too frequently to unconditionally recommend Bad Boys 4, the action is rote, the story repetitive and Smith and Lawrence’s extended carry-on eventually grows tedious.

Once again, the dynamic is kept somewhat fresh when one of the duo suffers a life-threatening incident. This admittedly leads to some of the best laughs in the franchise early on as the actor in question embodies life-affirming, near-religious ecstasy like no other, but eventually, the thread wears a little thin.

Will Smith as Mike Lowrey

Mike and Marcus return for their most personal case yet (Image: SONY)

Later on, Smith and Scipio try their best to make their tentative father-son relationship work after their violent reunion in the previous entry, but the newcomer is just a little too stoic and glowering to give their more tender scenes much feeling. Plus, the cat-and-mouse game between him and Seehorn is all but forgotten about until a rather deflating face-off to tie things up after a bombastic action scene set in the franchise’s most thrillingly creative location yet. A weird wobble to an otherwise enjoyable third act.

Also forgettable is Dane’s “insert-movie-bad-guy-here” aside from a handful of chilling scenes, Paola Núñez as Captain Rita Secada does very little other than scolding the two lead wildcards, while Pantoliano looks practically asleep in literally phoned-in posthumous appearances from Captain Howard to guide the team down the right track.

Speaking of the team, newcomers Vanessa Hudgens and Alexander Ludwig are back as AMMO agents Kelly and Dorn who are all but useless bar some tech-savviness, and another inevitable layer to their relationship is added which audiences will struggle to muster up much enthusiasm for. Their teammate Charles Melton was presumably too busy moving onto bigger and better things following his stunning performance in May December to return.

Mike and Marcus’ families are also rather underserved considering Ride or Die becomes their most personal case yet, though a fist-pumping moment from Mike’s son-in-law, unsung hero Reggie (Dennis Greene), more than makes up for this.

The lowest moments come from some tedious cameos that grind the case to an unbearable halt, proving the Bad Boys universe might be becoming a little overstuffed.

Fans of the franchise won’t need convincing; the fourth entry has energy to spare and the action refuses to let up, even if the duo’s cases are starting to become overfamiliar. While the Bad Boys clearly don’t need to reinvent the wheel just yet, time will tell how long it keeps turning.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is in cinemas from Wednesday, June 5.

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