Movie Review: Ride Along 2

Movie Review: Ride Along 2

Ride Along 2

Rating

Directed by Tim Story. Starring Olivia Munn, Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Ken Jeong, Tika Sumpter, Bruce McGill, Benjamin Bratt, Glen Powell, Sherri Shepherd, Carlos Gómez, Rey Hernandez, Hunter Denoyelles, Robert Pralgo, Arturo del Puerto, Rick Ross, Libby Blanton, Tom Stedham, Boualem Hassaine, Mary Farah, T.I., Shaker Sangam. Written by Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, Greg Coolidge.



Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are back in action in Ride Along 2, a sequel to 2014’s action-comedy buddy cop surprise hit. 

You might have missed the first film; it wasn’t even given a theatrical release in the Czech Republic. But if that’s the case, you might enjoy this rehash of events from the first movie even more. If you have seen the original, Ride Along 2 is about the same movie, which isn’t at all a bad thing.

The premise is straight from the buddy cop handbook, which might have began with 1982’s 48 Hrs. In that film, Nick Nolte’s grizzled police detective was paired with an Odd Couple opposite in Eddie Murphy’s  motormouthed comedian, who grates on the cop’s nerves but ultimately proves his worth during the Major Investigation. 

The sequel to that movie, Another 48 Hrs., didn’t fare nearly as well because the two lead characters had already completed their arcs. After learning to work together and gaining each other’s respect in the first film, they had little room to grow in the second. 

Not so much here: Ice Cube’s grizzled veteran police detective James Payton still has no respect for Kevin Hart’s reckless wannabe Ben Barber, despite the events of the previous film, and despite the fact that Barber is now actually on the force, and despite the fact that Barber is soon to become his brother-in-law. 

Once again, Barber must prove his worth to Payton. And to his soon-to-be-wife Angela (Tika Sumpter). And to the rest of the police department, including a Lieutenant played by Bruce McGil and Payton’s real partner, played by Fast & Furious’ Tyrese Gibson, who amusingly shows up for a single scene. And, I guess, to the audience, who might shudder at the thought of a character like this actually being a policeman.

This time, the duo move from Atlanta to Miami to conduct their investigation, thanks to the helpful program that allows officers to freely conduct police business outside of their jurisdiction and without a warrant. 

Not that I’m complaining: the movie’s location filming throughout Miami is one of the best things that it has going for it. The throwback Miami Vice vibes, which are probably unintentional, is the closest thing Ride Along 2 has to filmmaking style. 

In Florida, they track down computer hacker A.J. (played by Community’s Ken Jeong), join forces with local cop Maya (Olivia Munn), and eventually catch the trail of local shady businessman Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt). No twists here: Bratt’s character kills a guy in the film’s opening scene. 

For the first two acts, at least, the movie is tightly plotted (if silly and innocuous) and occasionally contains a genuine laugh or a diverting action sequence (a footchase through Miami suburbs is a highlight). 

But to say Ride Along 2 is formulaic doesn’t quite get the point across. This is a movie that climaxes in the kind of shipping yard that only exists in movies or video games, where all the bad guys congregate to manage their shipping containers full of illegal goods. The main villain, of course, has the heroes at gunpoint, but instead of killing them he has one of those Talking Killer monologues.

The script’s ticking clock element? Barber has to get home in time for his wedding.

There’s a sense of self-awareness in Ride Along 2 – the characters occasionally comment on the clichés that surround them – but the film is not funny enough to sustain itself as a comedy, and by the time the plot takes over in the third act it really starts to drag. It’s a fast & fun diversion two-thirds of the way and then a bummer by the end.

Ride Along 2 might be best remembered as the film that finally unseated Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the US box office after a month of dominance and nearly a billion dollars. In terms of actual content within the movie, it’s modestly enjoyable but instantly forgettable fluff.


Jason Pirodsky

Hailing from Syracuse, New York, Jason Pirodsky made his way to Prague via Miami and has stuck around, for better and worse, since 2004. A member of the Online Film Critics Society (www.ofcs.org), some of his favorite movies include O Lucky Man!, El Topo, Berlin Alexanderplatz, and Hellzapoppin'. Follow him on Twitter for some (slightly) more concise reviews.

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