Franchise fatigue is always a risk in Hollywood. What starts out as passion and love can quickly become insatiable greed. Some of the most recognizable stories throughout cinematic history know when to stop (the likes of “Indiana Jones,” “Die Hard” and “Rambo” all ran their course as much as they could, and they knew it), yet others, such as “Fast and Furious,” simply do not know where the end of the line is. However, I admit that I have found enough enjoyable entertainment in the previous “Bad Boys” entries. At least this chaotic and carnage-fuelled buddy-cop series has a sense of self-awareness, which it relishes as much as it possibly can, brought to life by the lord of mayhem himself, Michael Bay.

Despite a seventeen-year gap between the second and third, where things could have so quickly gone wrong, “Bad Boys for Life” proved to be more fun than it had any right to be. After only four years, Smith and Lawrence’s childish, boisterous, and undeniably watchable relationship still combines well with a sizeable sense of on-screen devastation that bodes well with a big bucket of popcorn.

The plot (for what it is worth at least) centers around Will Smith’s Mike Lowry and Martin Lawrence’s Marcus Burnett becoming the targets and fugitives in a corrupt case involving their former chief of police, Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano), who was murdered in the previous film. Alleged evidence has charged the captain with being embroiled in drug cartels throughout Miami, with corruption flowing throughout the police department and local government. With evidence proving their innocence, Lowry and Burnett set out to stop those who have framed them. This leads them to cross paths with and face to face with Eric Dane’s villainous McGrath. Along the way, they team up once again with Miami PD’s ‘AMMO’ team, which consists of Paola Nunez’s Rita, Vanessa Hudgens’s Kelly, and Alexander Ludwig’s Dorn.

In “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” directors Adil El Arbi and Bilal Fallah (who helmed the last film and whose well-known credits include “Ms. Marvel” on Disney Plus) introduce an injection of DNA from “Fast and Furious” and “Mission Impossible,” giving you the full price of your admission with some pretty astonishing and very energetic set pieces that I was impressively enthralled by (even by the already explosive standards of the last three, this was a step up). The action this time consists of impressively death-defying and practical set pieces that place this among some of the best-handled orchestration and execution I have seen recently. This also appears to be the first film that seems to properly understand how to utilize drone shots instead of the nauseating rubbish seen in (ironically enough) Michael Bay’s “Ambulance.”

Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024) Movie Review
A still from “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” (2024)

The most notable sequences involve a plane crash that is featured heavily in the film’s marketing, one brief but exhilarating elevator scene, a single take-home invasion set piece, and a first-person shootout. The age of our two primary stars has (at least from what I can see) proven to be a real issue, so at this moment in time, we have that to be thankful for. However, this seems to be the only thing keeping Martin Lawrence’s career alive since he has not starred in anything notable in years.

There is also the possibility that some may find him slightly too shrieky or annoying this time. If either one of them were ever to call it quits first, it is relatively safe to say it would be him. On the other hand, Smith endured a delicate time after the Oscar incident. Given the wildly successful box office performance of this (now officially a billion-dollar franchise), he will have no issue doing so.

When the plot sputters, forcing the hero to go on the run becomes the overused defibrillator of tired sagas. I’m afraid this is all too applicable and relevant here. For some obscure reason, they have decided to introduce a more spiritual element consisting of visions and the afterlife (too tricky to explain without spoiling the plot), which I thought was utter nonsense and caused me to roll my eyes almost instantly.

There is also a piece of character development for Mike that appears out of nowhere that you are expecting to just go along with. These elements represent these films beginning to lose their grip. For the most part, however, it manages to just about pull off its direction by the skin of its teeth. To even things out, Eric Dane (the antagonist) offers at least an intimidating screen presence with a stone-cold demeanor. He delivered effectively and efficiently enough for what the film needed as a threat and is the best so far.

With what I thought could have been a drawn-out concept heading nowhere,  this proves that there is still fuel left in the tank. A most welcome surprise, I had a good and entertaining time all around. It is here where you now have to contemplate what can happen or where things can go. As much as I love Will Smith, number four had a suspiciously questionable plot, and this arguably suffers even more. Granted, the only way forward is if you could find a plausible enough way to bring it all to an appropriate conclusion and end in a way that makes sense for the characters. In that case, by all means proceed. But, unfortunately, I am doubtful and hesitant.

Read More: The Bad Boys Movies (Including Bad Boys: Ride or Die) Ranked, according to Rotten Tomatoes

Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
The Cast of Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024) Movie: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Núñez, Eric Dane, Ioan Gruffudd, Jacob Scipio, Melanie Liburd, Tasha Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Joe Pantoliano
Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024) Movie Genre: Action/Comedy | Runtime: 1h 55m
Where to watch Bad Boys: Ride or Die

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