Release: Friday, January 15, 2016
Written by: Phil Hay; Matt Manfredi
Directed by: Tim Story
Kevin Hart and Ice Cube are black in action in Ride Along 2, the sequel that very few people asked for but ended up getting anyway.
The fact that Tim Story (the guy behind the Fantastic Four movies — no, not the re- re- re- re- re-make that pissed everyone off) bothered to follow-up from his 2014 buddy-cop comedy doesn’t exactly advertise him as the most original of directors we have at our disposal right now. Considering how many of the trailers — I’d say at least half of them — that preceded the feature tonight were about Kevin Hart shopping for a new comedic partner (Dwayne Johnson is probably the most compelling), Ride Along 2 seems even more superfluous.
The film finds wannabe cop Ben Barber (Hart) begging to travel to Miami with his “partner” James to prove himself worthy of becoming a detective, despite the fact everyone on the Atlanta police force assumes he just got lucky last time cracking the case. Ben is soon going to be marrying James’ sister Angela (Tika Sumpter) and he believes putting himself once more in harm’s way will be the key to impressing his future in-law.
Ride Along 2‘s premise is as generic as generic gets. Seriously. I’ve seen store-brand boxes of Corn Flakes that were more inspiring. And the formula hasn’t changed from the last time we saw the pair galavanting around on screen. It almost doesn’t require any breaking down, but if I must: James has been trying to penetrate a notorious drug-ring based out of Miami, one headed up by a man named Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt) who maintains a good relationship with the public making all kinds of gracious donations to causes not worth mentioning here.
James needs to put together a team in order to track him down and bring him to justice. That’s when they come across a no-nonsense homicide investigator named Maya (Olivia Munn). They also acquire a valuable asset in the form of Ken Jeong’s computer hacker A.J., who was witness to a nasty little murder Pope committed in Miami over a dispute about some misplaced cash. Despite having extra help this time, it’s still going to take significant lobbying on James’ part to convince his higher-ups they should stay on the case, even after they partly botch the mission.
Ride Along 2 is a real underachiever, making no effort to provide a compelling crime story or one that’s even vaguely believable. It’s a problem solved far too easily and the only real thing that’s ever at stake is Ben’s impending nuptials. And yet, for everything that it is and everything that it’s not this is an entertaining escape. Ice Cube and Hart still have great chemistry, and Munn and Jeong are welcomed additions. Especially effective is Munn, who isn’t just eye candy; she employs a wry sense of humor to counter Hart’s spastic energy. Jeong dials back the inanity of his schtick and the movie is all the better for it.
Recycled material, overly familiar antics and excessive silliness aside, Ride Along 2 is a predictable experience but it’s not a product totally devoid of value. Bring the pizza and the beer, maybe even to the theater.
Recommendation: As far as comedy sequels go, Ride Along 2 is in good company: it’s uninspired and unoriginal but for those who latched onto the comedic duo in the first installment, this will get the job done well enough. I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but I wouldn’t balk if and when Ride Along 3 is announced.
Running Time: 102 mins.
Quoted: “My nerves is bad, man! OOOOOOH my God! Here, zombie!”
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