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"Bad Boys: Ride or Die" - A Blast from the Past in Miami's Gritty Underbelly

In the world of cinema, some franchises refuse to fade away quietly, and "Bad Boys: Ride or Die" exemplifies this enduring spirit. The fourth installment in the long-running action-comedy series starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence is a wild ride down memory lane, offering audiences a nostalgic trip back to the 90s while grappling with the complications of the modern world.

A Fight to Clear a Fallen Hero's Name

This time, the plot centers not on the personal struggles of our titular heroes, but on a mission to restore the honor of their late captain, Conrad Howard (played by Joe Pantoliano). Captain Howard, beloved by detectives Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence), is framed posthumously as a mole for a Mexican drug cartel, a cover-up masking deeper, more insidious corruption. Determined to exonerate their mentor, Mike and Marcus embark on a high-octane quest through Miami's sun-soaked streets and shadowy underworld.

Returning to Form in a Post-Slap Era

For Will Smith, "Bad Boys: Ride or Die" marks his return to the action genre post the infamous Oscars incident, referred to colloquially as "the Slap." Here, Smith slips back into his role as the charming, daredevil Mike Lowrey, navigating car chases and shootouts with aplomb. But there are signs that the relentless pace of the last three decades is catching up with him. Mike, who once seemed invincible, now battles panic attacks, a nod to the toll that time and personal upheaval have taken on the character—and perhaps on the actor himself.

Martin Lawrence's Marcus Burnett, on the other hand, is the movie's beating heart. His journey from a heart attack on the dance floor to a reborn, albeit foolhardy, zest for life provides much of the film's comic relief. Lawrence’s ability to deliver lines like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!” in the midst of chaos remains unparalleled, and his infectious energy is a cornerstone of the film’s appeal. While Smith's role is more subdued, playing the straight man to Lawrence’s antics, it is their undeniable chemistry that continues to drive the series.

A Nostalgic Nod to the 90s

Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, returning from "Bad Boys for Life," keep the adrenaline pumping with a mix of old-school action and modern flair. Yet, despite the drones and updated technology, "Ride or Die" feels firmly rooted in its 90s origins. From the pulsating Miami nightclubs to the gritty hideouts, the film could easily be mistaken for an artifact of the era that birthed it. Jerry Bruckheimer’s production signature is evident in every explosion and slow-motion shot, while Michael Bay, the original director, makes a cameo appearance, reinforcing the film's link to its storied past.

The Stakes and Silliness

While the movie doesn’t shy away from its over-the-top tendencies—silliness being more a feature than a bug—it also touches on more personal stakes. The revelation from the previous film that Mike is the father of a cartel assassin, Armando (Jacob Scipio), is a plotline that continues to unfold, adding layers to the otherwise straightforward narrative of clearing Howard's name.

The action is relentless, and the humor often hits the mark, making "Ride or Die" a breezily watchable addition to the franchise. The directing duo ensures a brisk pace, glossing over plot absurdities with the sheer force of spectacle. Whether it's car chases or gunfights, the film delivers the kind of popcorn entertainment that keeps audiences engaged from start to finish.

Reflecting on the Franchise's Legacy

“Bad Boys: Ride or Die” arrives in a cinematic landscape where such star-driven action-comedy franchises are increasingly rare. With the summer also heralding the return of Eddie Murphy in "Beverly Hills Cop," it's clear there's a yearning for the kind of films that these actors and their characters represent. The "Bad Boys" series, much like the "Fast and Furious" franchise, offers a nostalgic touchstone in an industry that has largely moved on from this type of storytelling.

Ultimately, while "Ride or Die" may not break new ground, it serves as a reminder of why Smith and Lawrence became such iconic figures in the action-comedy genre. Despite the bumps in the road, the duo's enduring appeal suggests that they—and their fans—aren't ready to say goodbye just yet.

Movie Details

  • Title: Bad Boys: Ride or Die

  • Director: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

  • Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano, Jacob Scipio

  • Release Date: [Insert Release Date]

  • Rating: R for strong violence, language throughout, and some sexual references

  • Runtime: 115 minutes

  • Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

As the "Bad Boys" ride again, it’s clear that the series' old-school charm still holds a certain magic, even if time has tempered its once unstoppable momentum.

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