2024, R, 110 min. Directed by Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah. Starring Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Núñez, Eric Dane, Ioan Gruffud, Rhea Seehorn.

Note: This article includes spoilers from past Bad Boys films and minor plot spoilers for Bad Boys: Ride or Die.

They’re baaaaaaaaack!

Four years after Bad Boys for Life, the dynamic duo of Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) returns in the fourth installment, Bad Boys: Ride or Die. This time, the stakes are higher, the action is more intense, and the laughs are louder. The themes weaved between each scene include coping with one’s own mortality and the legacy one leaves behind, trust, forgiveness, and most importantly, family.

The Bad Boys franchise has always been known for its blend of high-octane action and comedy; this new entry is no exception. The film picks up where the third movie left off, with Mike and Marcus reeling from losing their boss and friend, Capt. Howard. In one of the most shocking twists of Bad Boys for Life, Capt. Howard was gunned down in front of Mike, leaving a void in their lives and the Miami PD.

Bad Boys: Ride or Ride – Back and Better Than Ever

Bad Boys: Ride or Die has received a warm reception from both audiences and critics, and its box office performance reflects this enthusiasm. According to Variety, the movie made $5.9 million in previews after opening on June 5th and is projected to gross between $45 million and $50 million in its opening weekend. With a production cost of $100 million, these numbers are promising. For context, Bad Boys for Life (Bad Boys 3) grossed approximately $426.5 million worldwide, including $204.4 million from the domestic box office and $222.1 million from international markets. 

Audience reactions have been largely positive, with many praising Martin Lawrence’s comedic performance, stating he “pretty much stole this movie.” Fans have noted the continuity between Bad Boys 3 and Bad Boys 4, likening the franchise’s evolution to that of the Fast and Furious series. Critics, however, have had mixed responses. While some appreciate the film’s entertaining, over-the-top nature, others criticize elements like Mike Lowery’s panic attacks and scenes that felt out of place. Punch Drunk critics found some moments, like a reference to Will Smith’s infamous slap, to be tone-deaf. Meanwhile, the NY Times highlighted the film’s absurd yet engaging spectacle, mentioning a climactic raid featuring an albino alligator. Despite its shortcomings, Bad Boys: Ride or Die delivers an entertaining mix of action and humor.

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How It Fits Into the Bad Boys World

Picking up 30 years after the original movie, the story plunges Mike and Marcus into a new crisis when their late captain’s name is tainted. Despite his death, Capt. Howard becomes the main suspect in an investigation into the Miami PD’s leaks to the cartel, following decades of missing drugs, money, and officers. Determined to clear their captain’s name, Mike and Marcus embark on a mission to take down the bad guys in classic Bad Boys fashion. This time, they face off against new antagonists James McGrath (Eric Dane) and Adam Lockwood (Ioan Gruffudd).

Tons of familiar faces from previous Bad Boys movies make an appearance, including Rita Secada (Paola Núñez), Reggie, Marcus’ son-in-law, (Dennis Greene), Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens), and Dorn (Alexander Ludwig). The plot revisits the assassination of Capt. Howard by Armando, reveals a more complex motive than initially believed in Bad Boys for Life. Now a US Marshal, Capt. Howard’s daughter, Judy Howard (Rhea Seehorn), vows to take down Armando, intensifying the tension and conflict.

Mike Lowrey’s character arc in Ride or Die goes deeper into his personal life. Now married, he faces new challenges that test his devotion and resilience. His character is portrayed with a mix of his familiar cocky charm and newfound maturity, with his struggle with panic attacks adding a layer of vulnerability and realness. Meanwhile, Marcus grapples with the realities of aging and family life, balancing duty with personal well-being. His near-death experience at Mike’s wedding and subsequent transformation highlights his resilience and renewed sense of purpose. The evolution of both characters from reluctant partners to determined heroes is compelling and heartwarming.

Our Bad Boys: Ride or Die Official Review

We have to be honest, Bad Boys: Ride or Die skillfully blends high-octane action with genuine, relatable moments that ground the film in reality. The depiction of Mike Lowrey’s panic attacks offers a refreshing and humanizing look at a typically invincible character, highlighting the mental and emotional toll that his dangerous lifestyle takes. This vulnerability, combined with themes of family, forgiveness, and trust, adds depth to the characters, making them more relatable and authentic. The film poignantly explores the fragility of life, reminding viewers of the mortality that even action heroes face.

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The film masterfully balances its over-the-top action sequences with grounded, believable moments. While the action is intense and the cinematography stellar, nothing feels excessively unrealistic given the franchise’s tone. Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah craft visually stunning scenes that captivate the audience. Despite the occasional sensory overload, the action sequences are well-shot and coherent, never straying too far from believability. Grounded moments, such as character interactions and personal struggles, provide the necessary balance, making the film’s larger-than-life elements more impactful. Although I could have done without the prolonged close-ups of Martin Lawrence’s nostrils, the overall direction is commendable.

Is Bad Boys 4 a Summer Must Watch?

Absolutely.

Not only does it make sense as a franchise, but the film alone could be watched and enjoyed without much context. Every tie-in to the other movies is usually accompanied by a flashback, helping audiences remember how each scene fits into the overall story. The way it weaves action, humor, realism, and emotion, keeping you on your toes, makes it one of the perfect summer movies for 2024. The beginning might have been a little slow, but every act that followed blew me away. I laughed, I cried, I cringed, I covered my eyes, I was scared, I gasped, and I guffawed. I felt every emotion.

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Currently, Bad Boys 4 is available exclusively in theaters. Given Sony’s distribution deal with Netflix, the film is expected to stream on that platform, likely around November if previous trends continue.  As for the future, there’s definitely room. There are plenty of stories that could be spun off, and Bad Boys may be on track to becoming the next Fast and Furious (they just keep making movies, and we keep watching them!). While we don’t think a Bad Boys 5 will be in the works anytime soon, we aren’t shutting the door on the possibility of another thrilling adventure with Mike and Marcus.

To check out other hit movies coming in 2024, click here!

THE GOOD
Action-packed and entertaining
Engaging visuals and cinematography
Story made sense in the Bad Boys world
Each cast member played their role perfectly
Tons of humor without being over-the-top
THE BAD
Some scenes dragged on
A few violent scenes were excessive
Plot felt resolved too easily
8
Great

Review Summary

Mike and Marcus are back in Bad Boys: Ride or Die, tackling new villains, revisiting old connections, and delivering intense action with humor and heart.

Kellyann Doyle

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