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Martin Lawrence’s Joy is Infectious in Bad Boys: Ride or Die

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star in Columbia Pictures BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE. Photo by: Frank Masi

Last year, the most watched video game trailer of all time debuted, GTAVI, and a gaming phenomenon was launched. GTAVI explores the relationship between gun crime, modern tech and living it large in a fictionalised version of Miami. As if anticipating the game’s 2025 release, a fourth Bad Boys movie, Bad Boys: Ride or Die arrives in cinemas this June. Ride or Die is both a ton of fun and a perfect example of how video game visuals have taken over mainstream cinema.

Ride or Die is possibly the most exhilarating the Bad Boys franchise has ever been, with directors Adil and Balill returning to their version of the Bad Boys universe (after making the wildly successful Bad Boys for Life in 2020). The director pair’s comfort at running the show is now plain to see. Ride or Die is funnier, sharper and more emotionally resonant than its predecessor. Adapting the seminal breakneck screen language of the Wachowski’s, Guy Ritchie and every first person shooter of the 21st Century, Ride or Die also adds a savvy understanding of how the police use technology, to make a movie that feels cutting edge.

In fact, Ride or Die is on cruise control in every department. Its witty script comes from writers Chris Bremner (Bad Boys For Life) and Will Beall (a former homicide detective and writer of the forthcoming Axel F movie), while composer Lorne Balfe continues to find new variations of Mark Mancina’s superlative Bad Boys theme to fit the narrative.

Ride or Die follows Miami PD Detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) through developments in their personal lives and on to a fight to clear their late Captain’s (Joe Pantaliano) honour after he is posthumously accused of Mafia ties and to Mike’s estranged and incarcerated son, Armando (Jacob Scipio). As Mike and Marcus delve deeper, their own reputations become smeared by an unknown holding a dangerous grudge.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of Ride of Die comes from one of the leads. Not Smith, who may have been sensibly trying to avoid drawing unnecessary attention. Instead, what Hollywood never knew it needed was more Martin Lawrence. Lawrence plays Marcus like his life depends on it, bringing new sides to this familiar face. Marcus is a herald for joy. Every on-screen moment is brimming with silliness and heart. Lawrence is supported by a spot-on cast, including actors returning from Bad Boys for Life (notably, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, and Paola Nunez) plus providing a larger role for the excellent Scipio who really sells his character’s redemption arc. Adil and Balill even manage to give space to Rhea Seehorn (Breaking Bad) as the late Captain Howard’s FBI officer daughter.

For a film with a title about love and family, Ride or Die is pretty adult in its presentation, not holding back on the bad language and brutal violence. This is typical Bad Boys territory, whipping audiences into a guns-akimbo frenzy, while doing nothing to assuage fears that Florida is really scary. That aside, this is a seminal Summer action movie. With the franchise re-energised, expect Bad Boys 5 to be greenlit in the not too distant future.

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