By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Two years ago, I reviewed the first Ride Along and wasn’t really all that impressed. I gave the film a 2 (Out of 4 Stars) rating, mainly because the film is loaded with buddy cop movie clichés, tropes, and cookie-cutter character types. In addition, despite a few sporadic high points, the humor gets redundant and annoying quite fast. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart play their typical roles and overall, the film really has nothing all that exciting to offer audiences.
As one can already tell, I actually like the new sequel to Ride Along, but not a whole lot more. The movie has pretty much all of the same problems and issues of the first film, with the exception that more of the jokes actually work. The addition of Ken Jeong to the cast does make a small positive difference, but just like his co-star Hart, he often wears out his welcome.
Ride Along 2 takes place some months after the events of the first film. Motor mouth Ben Harper (Hart) has become a probationary police officer, but has ambitions of making detective like his future brother-in-law James (Cube). James gets assigned to a case in Miami, Florida, and much to his chagrin, he has to bring Ben along with him.
The case under investigation involves a narcotics dealer who may be connected with Pope (Benjamin Bratt), a powerful, but cunning kingpin in Miami. In addition to the difficult nature of the case, Ben and James have to put aside their differences to solve the case and make it back in time to Atlanta for Ben and Angela’s wedding. The main key to solving the case, though, is a frightened and illusive computer hacker named A.J. (Jeong) who happens to be high up on Pope’s hit list.
If I made the movie sound too exciting, I must apologize and set the record straight. Though the film does have a few fun and exciting action beats, the plot and story are quite transparent and everything plays out rather predictably. In addition to the same characters of Ben and James, who once again get the same under developed treatment, the movie’s villain Pope is so two-dimensional that it almost seems like an intentional joke on the part of the film’s writers (Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi) and director (Tim Story).
Had Bratt taken the extra step and used an evil, maniacal laugh, then I would’ve known this for sure. Otherwise, the character’s place in the film can be confusing. I didn’t know whether I was supposed to laugh or actually take him seriously. Once again Cube and Hart milk the same exact character dynamic for mixed results. As I previous stated, Jeong does offer up more laughs, but also suffers from the same problems as Hart. Both can be quite funny when their timing and their tones aren’t at full blast. However, restraint seems to be an issue they both have and Tim Story should have reined them in a bit. Actress Olivia Munn makes a lovely and convincingly tough addition to the cast as Miami detective Maya Cruz, but is just as limited by the script as the other characters are.
The fact that Cube and Hart can be likable onscreen is what will keep this movie franchise alive. I do predict that there will be another installment in a few years, but I sincerely hope that the producers hire much better writers and a more talented director to turn this weak material into something more formidable. The trouble with making an awesome buddy cop comedy movie is that it has been done well many times already. I think it is time to hire some talent who think way out of the box and can give Ice Cube and Kevin Hart a movie more worthy of their talents. The problem with Ride Along movies, so far, is that they come across as prepackaged knock offs of other films and that is just lazy filmmaking and storytelling.