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Movie Review: 'Bad Boys Ride or Die' Starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence

I had extremely low expectations for the fourth Bad Boys movie and that really helped the experience.

By Sean PatrickPublished 17 days ago 4 min read

Bad Boys Ride or Die (2024)

Directed by Adil and Bilal

Written by Chris Beamer, Will Beall

Starring Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig

Release Date June 7th, 2024

Published June 7th, 2024

To say that my expectations for the fourth film in the Bad Boys franchise were low would be a grave understatement. I loathed Bad Boys 2 all the way back in 2003 and never forgot that feeling. When Bad Boys for life arrived in 2020, it did not improve my feelings at all. Thus, with a fourth film arriving with the cultural baggage of being Will Smith's first big summer blockbuster comeback since his Oscars... moment, I had no good reason to be even remotely interested in Bad Boys Ride or Die.

I assumed the franchise would coast on what it has always done, be loud, be colorful, make terrible jokes, bullets, bullets, bullets, credits. Indeed, there are plenty of bullets in Bad Boys Ride or Die but I am surprised to say that the franchise is not coasting. The fourth film actually introduces a few interesting character wrinkles into the storytelling while still remaining a blockbuster action movie. The action of Bad Boys Ride or Die is a significant improvement for directors Adil and Bilal whose bad impression of Michael Bay in Bad Boys for Life made for a nearly unwatchable movie.

In Bad Boys Ride or Die, Mike Lowery (Will Smith) is getting married. At the wedding, Marcus (Martin Lawrence) delivers a tearful speech before dancing the night away like a maniac. This leads him to have a heart attack, a so-called Widowmaker. He is lucky to survive but the experience changes him, he comes out of his heart attack believing that he is invincible after a dream encounter with the late Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano). Oh, and Marcus now believes that he and Mike are soulmates who have lived past lives together, a running gag that Lawrence actually makes work.

With Marcus back from the dead, the plot kicks in. Bad guys led a former a former military man, played by Eric Dane, have framed the late Captain Howard as a drug dealer. Having anticipated this prior to his death, Captain Howard stashed away evidence of deep corruption in the Miami Police Department. He's stashed it in a away that only Mike and Marcus can find it. To do that however, Mike and Marcus will need the help of Armando (Jacob Scipio), Mike's son and the man who killed Captain Howard on behalf of his cartel leading mother. Armando was the big bad of Bad Boys for Life and is greatly built upon as a character in this movie.

The bad guys anticipate this move and manage to get Mike and Marcus framed for springing Armando from jail in a scene of terrific action aboard an helicopter that seems to crash for about an hour or so. Regardless of the silliness 0f that scene, it does get us deeper into the plot and leads to a final act that is shockingly good. The last act of Bad Boys Ride or Die is one of my favorite action sequences in some time. The movie gets moving at breakneck speed but instead of the insipid, overheated visuals of Bad Boys for Life, the directors make sure we can see the action of Bad Boys Ride or Die, toning down the eye-melting visuals while keeping the innovative camera movement.

What really surprised me though was how much I enjoyed the little character touches in Bad Boys Ride or Die. I mentioned Marcus's near death experience and that plays out with Marcus becoming a bit of a badass and a funny philosopher. But what surprised me was the nuance that Will Smith adds to Mike Lowery. With his new marriage, Mike actually has something to live for and this leads to him having panic attacks. The chinks in Mike's armor add a charge to the storytelling as it becomes about Mike learning to be himself again and balance the daredevil antics with a desire to stay alive. This is kind of perfect for Will Smith whose Oscars meltdown was a major chink in his movie star armor.

I am surprised how well Bad Boys Ride or Die improves on Bad Boys for Life. Where that film was an ugly, dark mess, this looks like an actual movie. Adil and Bilal have improved the look of their work while still maintaining their love of inventive visuals. They use drones and the camera whirls and flies around in the final act but not to the point where it makes you miss what is happening in the chaos. The visuals serve the plot here instead of completely overwhelming the plot as it did in Bad Boys for Life. Not that the plot of that film was all that hard to forget about. I retained almost none of Bad Boys for Life and yet, I still enjoyed Bad Boys Ride or Die, a testament to the improvement of the directors and the franchise.

Find my archive of more than 20 years and nearly 2000 movie reviews at Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing on Vocal. If you'd like to support my writing, you can do so by making a monthly pledge, or by leaving a one time tip. Thanks!


About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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Comments (1)

  • Esala Gunathilake16 days ago

    Fantastic job. Liked it.

Sean PatrickWritten by Sean Patrick

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