After Universal had a 2014 hit pairing Ice Cube with Kevin Hart for the buddy cop comedy Ride Along, it took little time for a sequel to be greenlit. And this quick turnaround tries to recapture that magic the duo brought to Atlanta Det. James Payton and his soon-to-be brother-in-law rookie, Benjamin Barber, by sending them down to Miami for their latest adventure.
It would be pretty hard not to make a halfway decent sequel when you have such a simple formula to begin with, and Ice Cube is no stranger to the tried-and-true buddy cop genre, having played a policeman many times previously, usually with the exact same personality and timbre of delivery.
With Ride Along 2, it feels like Cube, Hart, and director Tim Story are trying to create something bigger, maybe a potential new franchise like the Bad Boys or Lethal Weapon movies. At first, it almost seems like they’re trying to tie it into the Fast and Furious universe with a street racing scene and even a cameo by one of that franchise’s ensemble cast.
Like the original movie, the sequel to Ride Along mostly relies on the same single joke, that Ben annoys James with his hollow bragging. Most of the laughs would probably come from their constant arguing if it hadn’t been done better the first time around. James still isn’t into the idea of Ben marrying his sister Angela (Tika Sumpter), but she convinces him to take Ben to Miami on an investigation, as long as he’s back in a week for their wedding.
This allows the film’s heroes to interact with new characters in a new environment, which potentially could up the stakes. But with a bigger budget and bigger explosions comes bigger problems, most of them due to the new cast.
Benjamin Bratt takes on an exaggerated Latin accent to play Antonio Pope, a local Miami shipping magnate who may have been more effective as an antagonist if we didn’t see him kill someone in the opening scene. Because we already know he’s rotten as he tries to play himself up as a model citizen to the police, he never achieves quite the same effectiveness as Laurence Fishburne’s entrance as the baddie in the first movie. It’s also the type of “secret” government villain we’ve seen in too many of these movies, and the Miami location doesn’t do much to help when countless similar movies have been set there.
Probably the only benefit of casting Ken Jeong as the super-hacker AJ is to have someone in the movie that’s even more aggravating than Hart, which might seem impossible after 10 minutes of his trash talking. Olivia Munn is grossly miscast as a Florida detective who helps out mainly by using her sexy dance moves to distract Pope; other than that, she’s just used for reaction shots and little else.
Essentially, Ride Along 2 is a good example of lazy comedy writing using up every cliché in the police action-comedy playbook then going one step further by literally ripping off funnier comedians like Eddie Murphy. In one scene, Ben even pretends to be an African king to get into a party held by Pope, which is classic Murphy. There’s such a been-there seen-that feel to Ride Along 2, and not just due to the original movie. It’s also because of every other bad buddy cop comedy. This is a genre that’s long been run into the ground, especially when comedies that make fun of the genre like Hot Fuzz and 21 Jump Street are funnier and more entertaining.
Director Tim Story does a perfectly capable job with capturing the Miami environment, as well as with the bigger action scenes, although some of the editing seems a little too frenetic.
Basically, if you like what you see in the commercials for Ride Along 2, you’ll probably like the movie because you get exactly what’s advertised, almost to a fault at times. One of the most egregious aspects of the marketing was giving away one of the funnier gags from the final shootout in the commercials rather than letting it play out and be enjoyed for the first time while watching the movie.
Ride Along 2 basically delivers exactly what fans of the original movie might expect, but even if he’s not even remotely the worst part of the movie (and he’s made far worse movies than this), by the end of the film, you’re likely to want to shoot Kevin Hart in the face yourself.