Are you a fan of Kevin Hart? Does Ice Cube’s cold stare get you all hot and bothered? Do you enjoy shootouts kissed by Miami’s neon glow, while latin dance music plays soundtrack to the chaos? If so, then congratulations – you’re the target demographic for Tim Story’s buddy cop sequel, Ride Along 2!
Story’s second ride is another obvious police comedy that admittedly works better than the original does, but it’s still the same partners-with-attitude tomfoolery we’ve seen before, except this time in Florida – and Olivia Munn co-stars. Otherwise, it’s more Black Hammer references, disapproving glares from Cube, and another heaping helping of Hart’s mile-a-minute intensity, which is hopefully all you’re looking for.
Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are back as the “Brothers In Law,” James Payton and Ben Barber. We catch up with the duo as Ben is planning his wedding to James’ sister, Angela (Tika Sumpter), while working through his probationary police status. But when James is called to Miami for professional business, Ben sees it as a way to prove his worth.
Ben begs James to bring him along, and only after Angela expresses her wishes for a little free wedding planning time does James agree. So the duo set out for Miami’s tropical atmosphere in search of a key witness (Ken Jeong), but find ties to a bigger crime organization that needs to be taken down. Cue a dangerous investigation right before Ben’s wedding, with all the too-close-for-comfort details you’d expect when dealing with a smooth-talking villain (Benjamin Bratt).
Ride Along 2 is once again loaded with silly, renegade cop antics that are more about the relationship between two brothers in blue than proper procedures. That shouldn’t be a shocker. Hart’s character remains an avid gamer, and when he’s not being murdered by virtual grannies, he’s rattling off first-person-shooter terms that suggest art imitates life. As Ben and James get closer to cracking their interstate case, unexpected teachings that come from all-night Assassin’s Creed marathons give Ben a surprising leg-up. That, and it gives Story a chance to make his ridiculous screenplay relevant in pop-culture gaming circles.
Story makes these references light and punny, but a car chase that shifts into a Grand Theft Auto-inspired acid trip comes across as cheap and unnecessary. Hart’s character zones in during a high-speed chase, which turns reality into Ben’s virtual mindset. His powder-blue Jaguar XJR transforms into its pixelated equivalent, yet graphics look like they’re from an early Playstation 2 racing title – like video games have devolved ten years in Ben’s world. It’s a lazy attempt at gimmicky filmmaking that looks so horrendously out of place, wasting a perfectly good joke on shoddy, high-school-level digital artistry.
While we’re on the topic of effects, many of the film’s CGI touch-ups are a bit dodgy. Characters run away from explosions while their outlines are blurred because of poor green-screening, and Kevin Hart is forced to fight a digital alligator, only weakening the overall craftsmanship. Why bother wrangling a real gator when you can have a preposterous recreation stick out like sore thumb? It’s obvious that Story only cares about jokes here – that, and hot, Floridian locals who make Miami look like a it’s populated by extras in a softcore porno.
Then again, if Ride Along 2 is all about the jokes, I admit it’s a bit funnier than expected. Hart and Cube no longer have to worry about establishing a relationship, and can now focus on comedy between armed partners. This means an energetic Hart trying to push his fears aside, showing a professional courage that Cube’s character will finally respect.
The addition of Munn adds physical attraction, and Jeong shines brightest while soaking in Miami’s nightlife, but the entire film feels like it rests on Hart’s shoulders, and he feels the weight. Scenes meander too long as he blazes through a mile-long list of one-liners, some of which get a hearty chuckle, while others just grow tiresome. The chemistry between Hart and Cube eventually becomes more formulaic than Story’s third act, and by the end, we’re left with nothing more than what’s expected. Whether or not that’s a victory will depend on you.
Look, you’re getting what you paid for with Ride Along 2. It never stretches for anything but slapstick foolishness, and relies completely on the star-power of both Cube and Hart – but moreso Hart. He’s a funny comedian, and has a goofball grasp on physical comedy, but it’s not enough given how calculated each action bit and interrogation becomes. There’s no danger in Story’s script, as we glide through a breezy comedy with an obvious ending. Jokes are told, Hart gets slapped around, and these unlikely “Brothers In Law” save the day – but will their heroics be remembered? I’m sure we’ll be reminded when Ride Along 3 inevitably comes out…
Ride Along 2 may be a little bit funnier, but its formulaic buddy-cop plot doesn't stretch to be a bigger, more ambitious sequel in any sense.