Bad Boys: Ride or Die – Review

If cinema has taught us anything, it’s that the buddy cop genre, ripe with its clichés and familiar tropes, can still fuel blockbusters with surprising longevity. 

This is vividly illustrated by the Bad Boys franchise, which first barreled onto the scene in 1995. The initial instalment introduced audiences to the charismatic duo of Will Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Men in Black), and Martin Lawrence (Martin, Big Momma’s House), whose chemistry and kinetic energy set the stage for a new brand of high-octane police action-comedy. Over the decades, the franchise has evolved, mirroring the ageing of its stars with a narrative that playfully bemoans the passing of time with each subsequent film declaring, in some form or another, “We’re too old for this sh*t!”. Which in itself is also borrowing heavily from another buddy cop franchise.

Bad Boys Ride or Die

The latest and fourth instalment of the Bad Boys saga, Bad Boys: Ride or Die, finds itself in a unique position. Here, the franchise, along with its enduring leads, dances on the edge of nostalgia and novelty. Unlike most franchises that see diminishing returns with each sequel, Bad Boys has managed to sidestep this trend. While 2003’s Bad Boys II received mixed reviews, the series reclaimed its momentum with Bad Boys For Life in 2020, and now Bad Boys: Ride or Die aims to elevate the saga to new heights. As Smith and Lawrence return to the sun-drenched streets of Miami, the film not only embraces the legacy of its predecessors but also pushes the boundaries, injecting fresh energy into a formula that has entertained audiences for nearly three decades.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to its storyline. This time around, Smith’s Mike Lowrey and Lawrence’s Marcus Burnett are tasked with clearing the name of their late Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano, The Matrix, The Sopranos), who has been posthumously accused of corruption. What follows is a high-octane thrill ride that sees the iconic duo on the run, operating outside the law to uncover a sinister conspiracy and clear their names.

Bad Boys Ride or Die

The investigation leads Mike and Marcus on a collision course with a villain played by Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy, Euphoria), whose motives remain shrouded in mystery. As the stakes rise, the duo must rely on the help of the new generation of Bad Boys introduced in the previous film: Paola Núñez’s (Resident Evil) Rita, Vanessa Hudgens’ (High School Musical, The Princess Switch) Kelly, and Alexander Ludwig’s (The Hunger Games, Vikings) Dorn. Each character is given a moment to shine, reinforcing the notion that Bad Boys has matured into a more ensemble-driven narrative reminiscent of the franchise-building tactics employed in the Fast & Furious series.

The heart of the film, however, lies in the undeniable chemistry between Smith and Lawrence. When Lawrence’s Marcus suffers a near-fatal heart attack at the beginning of the film, this brush with death sparks a spiritual awakening, and he becomes convinced that he is on a divine mission to clear Howard’s name. Lawrence’s comedic genius shines through as he portrays Marcus’ newfound spirituality with a blend of sincerity and absurdity, providing a perfect foil to Smith’s effortlessly cool and composed Mike. Their comedic timing and banter remain as sharp as ever, even amidst ludicrous and over-the-top action sequences that push the boundaries of believability. 

Bad Boys Ride or Die

From a chaotic helicopter escapade to a hilarious shootout involving food, the film is a non-stop thrill ride that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats. Even the shadow of Smith’s infamous Oscar incident is cleverly woven into the narrative, with a playful, meta-textual slap scene that both addresses and jests at past controversies, allowing the actor to reclaim his charismatic screen presence in a moment of cleverly scripted catharsis.

Moroccan-Belgian directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who helmed the previous instalment, return to infuse the series with their signature visual flair and innovative action sequences. With Robrecht Heyvaert’s (Revenge, Bad Boys for Life) vibrant cinematography, Miami is painted in neon, echoing the city’s 1960s allure, each frame pulsing with life and colour, setting a dramatic backdrop for the high-octane action.

Adil and Bilall’s direction is kinetic, pushing the boundaries of conventional action filmmaking. They adopt dynamic techniques, often drawing from animation and video games, to bring an unrelenting, energetic feel to the gun and action sequences. Noteworthy is a dizzying scene aboard a plummeting plane, where the camera floats, weightless, mirroring the disarray inside as Mike and Marcus grapple with both assailants and escaping cargo. Another memorable moment unfolds outside a glass elevator, offering viewers a voyeuristic glimpse into a chaotic fight as the combatants shatter the barriers around them. These directors meld humour with havoc, ensuring the action remains thrilling yet funny, true to the Bad Boys legacy.

Bad Boys Ride or Die

The film also nods to its roots and fan favourites, with John Salley (Bad Boys), DJ Khaled (Bad Boys for Life), and Dennis Greene (Bad Boys II, Bad Boys for Life) making reappearances. Greene, in particular, impresses with his evolved combat skills, a far cry from his earlier, more timid portrayal in Bad Boys II. His character Reggie, once a nervous teenager, is now Marcus’ son-in-law and a formidable U.S. Marine. His scene – defeating assailants single-handedly and saluting a CCTV camera – earned applause and cheers, a testament to the character’s growth and the film’s ability to engage its audience on a visceral level.

Yes, the film is unapologetically silly, with its fair share of cheesy dialogue and gags that might elicit groans rather than laughter. But that’s part of the charm. Bad Boys: Ride or Die embraces its over-the-top nature, delivering an infectious energy that sweeps you up in its chaotic embrace. By the time an unexpected Reba McEntire rendition of the iconic theme song blasts over the end credits, it’s clear that the film’s creators understand the formula: go big or go home.



Bad Boys: Ride or Die may not be high art, but it’s a lot of fun, and that’s ultimately what matters in a film like this. So buckle up, turn off your mind, and let the bad boys take you on a chaotic journey through the streets of Miami.

  • Story - 6/10
  • Direction - 7/10
  • Characterisation - 7.5/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 8/10