Bad Boys: Ride or Die | Review by: Amanda Guarragi


29 years ago, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, at the peak of their careers, made an action comedy that became an instant hit. With Smith’s charm and Lawrence’s perfect comedic timing, the duo brought a refreshing chemistry to the genre. 

When director Michael Bay was at the helm, the action sequences were far-fetched and not realistic. The Bad Boys franchise always had off-the-wall action sequences, but more importantly, the sibling nature of Mike’s (Smith) and Marcus’s (Lawrence) relationship, made audiences come back for more. 

Once you understand what you’re getting out of a Bad Boys movie, you will appreciate all the zaniness of what they have to offer. Co-directors, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have carried on the “Bayhem” in Bad Boys: Ride or Die, and solidified themselves as great action directors. 

When it comes to action franchises, there always has to be something that sets them apart from the rest. Mission: Impossible has Tom Cruise stunts, Fast and Furious utilizes cars to their full extent, and Bad Boys has the impeccable chemistry between Lawrence and Smith. 

After years of sticking with them, the characters have become like family. And with each new film, they add another layer because they are aging. Co-writers, Chris Bremner and Will Beall wanted to incorporate the fear and anxiety of being in the field at their age. 

The film begins with Marcus having a health scare and Mike shoving his panic attacks to the side. While Mike is still haunted by the people he loves being taken from him, Marcus has a new perspective on his life. The positivity from Marcus counters perfectly against Mike in crisis mode. 

Marcus is free of his fear and goes into this mission trusting his fate. Adil and Bilall let Lawrence have fun with being enlightened, especially during action scenes. After his health scare, Marcus has to stay away from the snacks he loves, which they also incorporate into funny action scenes. They highlighted the strengths of Martin Lawrence’s line delivery and physical comedy in every way. 

Mike thinks about his future with his wife and hopes nothing will ever happen to her because of him. He questions what else can be taken from him causing him to lose focus. It was important to show his panic attacks, and how to overcome them. For some reason, it feels Mike has more to lose than Marcus. There’s more stress placed on Mike because he has always been the person to hold everyone together. Smith naturally delivers a compelling performance with intensity and his natural charisma. 

After the death of their beloved Captain Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano), Howard is now being framed for corruption. Mike and Marcus follow a trail to clear their Captain’s name and do not know who to trust. 

The narrative does fall into generic territory, and it does become predictable. The only flaw in Bad Boys: Ride or Die is it doesn’t take any swings narratively, but the action is on another level of bonkers even for Adil and Bilall. There needs to be consistency in any action franchise for audiences to expect the unexpected within the guidelines of the world created. If the formula works with the characters in place, then why change anything? That’s why this fourth instalment fits with the rest. Adil and Bilall’s action slowly builds throughout as the stakes get higher. Even if you feel your heroes will make it out at the end, the tension within the fight choreography is felt.

Instead of the audience being an observer in the action scenes, Adil and Bilall make you feel part of it all. There’s a swiftness with the camera as it navigates through the streets and the checkpoints in the sequences. The characters are in constant motion, and the tight-knit fight choreography is ruthless. It is a testament to the sound design and editing to let the audience feel those bone-crunching punches in their gut. Even secondary characters get their time to shine in action scenes like Armando Aretas (Jacob Scipio) and Reggie (Dennis Greene). The perspective changes from security footage to first-person shooter, made all of these scenes unpredictable because Adil and Bilall took those big swings. 

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is Adil and Bilall at their best. Their directing style becomes more exciting, and it’s because they reconstruct the perspective of action scenes. Regardless if a film has similar conventions because of the genre, the style of the action and the performances must elevate the movie. Even the score by Lorne Balfe exceeded expectations and made the action scenes more energizing. There could be another four of these films because Lawrence and Smith are an absolute delight to watch together. An action movie will always feel repetitive, but if there’s consistency with the entertainment value, then it’s worth the watch. 


Review by: Amanda Guarragi

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