RIDE ALONG 2. Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt, Olivia Munn, and Bruce McGill. Directed by Tim Story. Rated M (Violence). 102 Min.
This American action comedy is a sequel to the 2014 film, "Ride Along". The same Director (Tim Story) is responsible for both films, and three of the stars (Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, and Tika Sumpter) are the same. Two of the original writers (Hay, and Manfredi) are responsible for the script.
The picture essentially continues the same general thrust as the original movie. This time around, the story is about drug dealing, gun smuggling, and the violence that typically accompanies these kinds of activities.
The original movie had Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) as a security guard, proposing to his girlfriend, Angela (Tika Sumpter), while her brother, James (Ice Cube), his soon-to-be brother-in-law, gave his blessing. James takes Ben on a "ride along" as a police recruit to prove his worth.
Now, Ben, like James, is a full-time policeman - somewhere between a probationary officer and the detective he desires to be. Ben is still his inept self. His wedding day is approaching and James is given the task of taking down, or bringing in, a notorious drug dealer, Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt). James refuses at first to allow Ben to help him, but his sister convinces him he should agree to Ben being given the chance to prove himself as a policeman.
Ben and James travel on a "ride along" to Miami to try to stop Pope, who is supplying dealers in the city of Atlanta with drugs. Pope has entrenched himself in Florida through establishing the reputation of a highly respected business man. Not surprisingly, things in Atlanta go bad, and Ben's wedding is threatened when there is a chance he might not even make it back to his own wedding.
Down south, Ben and James start off badly with a local detective, Maya (Olivia Munn), who tells them Miami is her patch, and then joins the team. A computer hacker, A.J. (Ken Jeong) leads Ben, James and Maya to the head crime-boss, but they all know they have to confront Antonio Pope by publicly exposing him. Pope is an especially vicious character and he rules the Florida drug trade with a cruel fist. Ben and James know that exposing Pope will be very difficult. Pope is a murderous drug-lord and a psychopathic killer, but he also happens to be a wealthy philanthropist, who makes sizeable financial donations to the Police Department.
This is a buddy-cop sequel that works hard and erratically for its humour. Ben and James demonstrate some spontaneous chemistry with each other, but sketches are intentionally introduced to supply comedy that often misfires. One scene has Hart being chased by an alligator in Pope's backyard; another one has Hart sifting through a garbage can looking for discarded nachos with human hair in them that he is forced to eat; and a third scene shows A.J., the computer-hacker, indulging in sexual cyber-play with a girl dressed as a mouse. They all miss their mark.
After "Ride Along" (1) which had moments of good drama, Ben and James start off in this film looking unlikely partners. The passage from social ineptness to blossoming friendship and eventually to genuine bonding is a perilous one to attempt, and many films have tried to tread that path and failed. Some movies like "Heat" (2013) - with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy - complete that journey in comic style, but this movie achieves a level of comic bonding only occasionally, and never very dramatically.
This is a formulaic sequel, where Playboy Magazine images abound in places like "Beach Kitten Inc.", and both plot- and character- development are distorted to push the "Ride Along" series further. Its comedy scenarios are staged for comic effect. Plot and character-wise, the original and the sequel turn out to be too much alike. The filmed sequel has its moments, but it achieves them mostly by trying over-earnestly to re-kindle "Ride Along (1)" 's original level of popularity.
Peter W Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting
Released February 18th., 2016