Review: Latest ‘Bad Boys’ film delivers high octane action, laughs

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys: Ride or Die (Courtesy, Sony Pictures)

The last time many of us saw Will Smith, he was embarrassing himself, Jada Pickett Smith, and Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars by losing his cool and slapping Rock for joking about Pickett Smith’s alopecia condition.

Yes, his film “Emancipation” opened in late 2022, but despite being a solid movie, it didn’t necessarily light up the box office or redeem Smith’s ailing image.

However, Smith’s latest film “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” with co-star Martin Lawrence is the type of fare that vaulted him to Hollywood’s A List in the 1990s. It’s an action-comedy of the ilk that once could sell a ton of tickets and popcorn as a crowd-pleaser that would line the pockets of its studio, producer, stars, and theaters.

In years past, this sequel is the type of film that could almost make back its considerable budget in a strong weekend, but theater attendance and ticket sales are in a steep slump this year. Sales are down 15 percent according to “The Hollywood Reporter.”

A recent CNN article reported that analyst Shawn Robbins of Box Office Theory predicted the summer take for theaters could be down as much as 20 to 25 percent this summer based on the slow start this year and the lack of potential blockbusters headed to theaters over the next two and half months.

Sure bets like “The Fall Guy,” starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, and “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” have already flopped. “The Fall Guy,” which is a fun action/romance that opened in early May, is already available to rent on video on demand.

Will the combo of Lawrence and Smith save the summer box office like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” did last summer?

The film is tracking high with estimates swelling over $100 million for this weekend, but I still wouldn’t bet on it. “The Fall Guy” and “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” first-week box-office fell short of industry predictions.

That said, “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” is a fun time at the movies if you enjoy action-flavored buddy comedies. The film breaks no new ground, but it does make the tried-and-true formula go down really easy.

Basically Lawrence’s Marcus Burnett and Smith’s Mike Lowery are both too old for this “stuff” like Danny Glover’s character in the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, but when their late Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) is posthumously accused of Mafia ties, Lowery and Burnett are out to clear his name no matter the odds.

I won’t give away how, but while working to clear their old captain’s name, both become fugitives, setting up an E-ticket ride that is outlandish but thrilling and fun.

The chemistry between Smith and Lawrence has always been what this film series is built on, and I would argue it is as crowd-pleasing as ever. The trash-talk, action, and nearly cartoon-level violence carry this film in an action-packed, set-piece pounding manner that’s hard to resist for fans of the buddy-movie genre.

There is an incident that provokes Lawrence’s Burnett to throw his normal cautionary attitude to the wind that is pretty funny. It makes Smith’s Lowery into an unwilling straight man of sorts.

The movie doesn’t even try to avoid “the slap” controversy. It actually uses it in the climax in a fairly humorous slapstick sequence between the co-leads.

The directing duo of Adil and Bilall, who also helmed “Bad Boys for Life” deliver about all anyone could ask for out of a 30-year-old action-comedy sequel. The action pops as does the banter and jokes, thanks to a better-than-expected script by Chris Bremner and Will Beall.

The movie is a tried and true action-comedy , but it delivers on a high level. If you like Lawrence and Smith’s humor, the movie would probably be a worthwhile trip to the theater for you. I doubt the summer will offer up a better action-comedy than this.

(R) 1 hr. 55 min.
Grade: B

New in Local Theaters – June 7, 2024

  • The Watchers (PG-13) 1 hr. 42 min. (trailer)
    AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle
  • Bad Boys: Ride or Die (R) 1 hr. 55 min. (trailer)
    AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Skylight
  • Young Woman and the Sea (PG) 2 hr. 9 min. (trailer)
    Malco Razorback
  • Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings (PG) 3 hr. 28 min. (trailer)
    Malco Pinnacle – 4 p.m June 8 and June 15
  • Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (PG-13) 2 hr. 59 min. (trailer)
    Malco Pinnacle – 4 p.m. June 9 and June 16

Favorite Films Year by Year (1989-85)

Today we continue to consider my favorite movies by year as well as the corresponding top-grossing film and the Oscar winner. Until I began writing this series, I didn’t quite realize how big a fan of movie star Tom Cruise and director Rob Reiner I evidently am.


Top Grossing: Indiana Jones and Last Crusade
The last, great Indiana Jones film crushed at the box office for director/producer Steven Spielberg and producer/writer George Lucas. The idea of casting Sean Connery as Indy’s dad, Henry Jones Sr., was a stroke of genius. He and Harrison Ford’s banter as they search for the Cup of Christ was classic. This is an excellent movie. I personally rate it just a hair below the “The Raiders of the Lost Ark” in the series of films.

Oscar Winner: Driving Miss Daisy
Morgan Freeman, who reprised his role as chauffeur Hoke Colburn from Broadway, probably should have won the Oscar for which he was nominated, and Jessica Tandy did win one for Best Supporting Actress for her titular performance. The movie tells of the friendship that develops between a black driver and jewish lady that still holds up well today.

My Favorite: When Harry Met Sally
This is one of my favorite years for movies. It was tough to choose which of the many classics that opened in 1989 is my absolute favorite. I considered the aforementioned “Indiana Jones and Last Crusade.” It would be my No. 2. Robin Williams’ tour de force in “Dead Poet’s Society” is my No. 3. “The Little Mermaid” is a sentimental favorite of mine at No. 4 as the first movie I took my niece to see. “Batman” probably would have been my choice of favorite back in 1985, but it falls to No. 5. No. 6 is Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” which probably should have won the Oscar for Best Picture. I readily admit my favorite movies aren’t necessarily the best movies. However, my favorite movie from 1989 is Rob Reiner’s classic romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally.” It’s a top-10 movie for me. Top five, if you eliminate Christmas-themed fare. The script by Nora Ephron is arguably as perfect as a writer can get. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal make spot on sparring friends and lovers in this movie that boasts an awesome soundtrack by Harry Connick Jr. and Marc Shaiman. Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby are also great as their best friends. This is a wonderful picture for a rainy, fall day, or possibly a movie to usher in New Year’s with its climax occurring on that festive occasion.


Top Grossing: Who Framed Roger Rabbit
I love old cartoons from Warner Bros., MGM and Disney, but for whatever reason, this fantasy-noir movie from director Robert Zemeckis that mixes “toon” characters with live-action performances just missed the mark for me. The movie is by no means bad, but honestly, I’d rather just watch old Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, or Tom and Jerry ‘toons that revisit this movie.

Oscar Winner: Rain Man
Just like Ray (Dustin Hoffman) was “an excellent driver,” this is a movie directed by Barry Levinson, who made so many fine movies in the 1980s and early 1990s, perhaps made his best with this film. He, Hoffman, screenwriters Ronald Bass and Barrow Morrow all garnered Oscars for their work, but Tom Cruise, who played Charlie, the brother autistic Ray, was left off the Oscar bandwagon. In hindsight it’s a travesty did Cruise did not get nominated. He probably should have won.

My Favorite: A Fish Called Wanda
This was an incredible year for comedy at the cinema and movies in general. In my No. 6 film from ‘89, Robin Williams is fantastic as a radio disc jockey trying to find sanity in the midst of a war in the dramedy “Good Morning Vietnam. Tom Hanks began to set himself apart in my No. 5 film, “Big.” He played a kid who makes a wish to be an adult, and the wish immediately comes true physically, but his mind remains pre-teen. I don’t care if my No. 4 “Die Hard” is considered a Christmas movie or not. It’s fun to watch any time. No. 3 is “Broadcast News.” As silly as it may sound, this movie had a big influence on my career path. No. 2 is “Midnight Run.” If there is a funnier action-comedy than this, I want to see it. Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin are comedy gold as oil and water in this fantastic road picture. Ever so slightly edging its way into the No. 1 spot is “A Fish Called Wanda.” Monty Python’s John Cleese is a barrister who is the target of a group of diamond thieves and con men after he locks away their jewels in a safe-deposit box when their leader is pinched and becomes his client. Cleese is funny and Jamie Lee Curtis is sexy cool as the thief that seduces him in an attempt to get the diamonds, However Kevin Kline won an Oscar for his comedic performance as her thinking-impaired, thuggish boyfriend, Otto. Fellow Python Michael Palin is also wonderfully hilarious as Ken, a crook who stutters. The film is hilarious, exciting, and quite romantic.


Top Grossing: Beverly Hills Cop II
I’ve always found Eddie Murphy funny. He’s funny in this film, too, but it’s just a weaker rehash of the original.

Oscar Winner: The Last Emperor
Director Bernardo Bertolucci’s epic drama is about the life of the final Emperor of China. It tells the story of Puyi’s ascent to the throne through his politically based imprisonment by the Chinese Communist Party. It’s a beautiful film that has been criticized for playing down Puyi’s cruelty as Emperor, and for other historical inaccuracies. It’s a long but well-made movie that I’ve never had a desire to rewatch since first seeing it on TV some time in the 1990s.

My Favorite: No Way Out
No. 5 is the horror/comedy “The Lost Boys,” a somewhat scary, modern take on vampires with a seductively chilling performance by Kiefer Sullivan as David, the leader of a motorcycle gang of blood-suckers. The title of the film, of course, alludes to “Peter Pan” but the connection is not completely clear until the end of the movie. No. 4 is The crime drama “The Untouchables.” It is such a strong film. It’s hard for me to say which performance is better between Robert De Niro as Al Capone, Sean Connery as Jim Malone, and Kevin Costner as Elliot Ness in this terrific movie, directed by Brian De Palma. No. 3 is director Rob Reiner’s fantasy-adventure-comedy “The Princess Bride.” The movie is such a charming and inane fairy tale. It’s simply enchanting with a great cast including Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal, Peter Falk and Fred Savage. No. 2 is the romantic comedy “Roxanne,” which is a modern retelling of the play “Cyrano de Bergerac ” with Steve Martin as the proboscis-challenged hero, C.D., and lovely Daryl Hannah as Roxanne. For my money this is Martin and Hannah’s best performances. The movie just makes you feel good. No. 1 is the noir-thriller “No Way Out,” starring Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, Will Patton, and Sean Young in a film about the search for a Russian spy who has infiltrated the U.S. military. Just a great politically charged thriller with a mystery that kept me guessing throughout the movie and a twist that simply floored me with the reveal. The 1980s soundtrack is tough on today’s ears, but, wow, is this film, directed by Roger Donaldson and written by Robert Garland, worth that minor irritation.


Top Grossing: Top Gun
This adrenaline ride cemented Tom Cruise (Pete “Maverick” Mitchell) as a film star of the first magnitude in this expertly directed action/romance by Tony Scott. The movie sizzles on all levels from the classroom, the bar, the cockpit to the bedroom. Kelly McGillis plays the instructor who becomes the object of Cruise’ desire. Anthony Edwards as his wingman Goose, Val Kilmer as his rival Ice Man, and Meg Ryan as Goose’s wife, Carole, all gave outstanding performances.

Oscar Winner: Platoon
Director Oliver Stone’s Viet Nam opus is an exceptionally well-crafted but a cliched movie. It’s like watching Viet Nam’s Greatest Hits from Stone’s perspective. The movie is a serious and somewhat compelling film, but entirely deflating. I go to the movies to be entertained. I don’t go to the movies to be “educated” or “preached at,” and that seems like the point of “Platoon.”

My Favorite: Stand By Me
Overall the period we are considering today is a great one for movies; however, from my view, 1986 is probably the weakest year of the five-year period. That said, my top five from 1986 are: No. 5 “Hoosiers,” probably the best basketball-themed movie ever made. No. 4 “The Color of Money,” Martin Scorsese’s sequel to “The Hustler.” It’s hard to top Paul Newman and Tom Cruise hustling pool for cash and glory. No. 3 “Star Trek: Voyage Home,” Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew travel back in time to steal a whale that might be the solution to a doomsday scenario in the 23rd century. No. 2 is “Top Gun,” see above. No. 1 is “Stand by Me,” director Rob Reiner’s adaptation of a Stephen King novella “The Body.” Maybe, it’s just my sentimentality and longing for a simpler time, but I just love this movie about best friends on a mission. From the bully of a dog, to the train-track threat, to the gross-out blueberry pie story, to leeches, and the final showdown and a bunch of older punks, the movie is a melancholy trip down memory lane to a time when things seemed somehow easier and tougher than they are today.


Top Grossing: Back to the Future
This is probably my third favorite movie that deals with time travel. I like 1979’s “Time After Time” and 1978’s “Superman: The Movie” better, but there are no flies on this film that features Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) traveling back in time where he has to fend off creepy advances from his future mother (Lea Thompson) in this spacey adventure. Christopher Lloyd probably gives the most beloved performance of his career as eccentric Doc Brown, who converts a DeLorean into a time machine.The film has two sequels that for me come nowhere close to the original.

Oscar Winner: Out of Africa
This epic romantic drama is beautifully shot by cinematographer David Watkin and lushly directed by Sydney Pollack, who won Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture as its producer. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford play lovers in this sleepy, slow romance that looks fantastic but just failed to capture my interest in my two efforts to watch it. I doubt I’ll ever be mature enough to fully appreciate this movie.

My Favorite: Witness
Again the mid-to-late 1980s was a strong period for movies of my taste. No. 2 is “Young Sherlock Holmes,” directed by Barry Levinson and written by Chris Columbus. If you or your children enjoy Harry Potter, this movie is very close in tone to those novels and films. Columbus, incidentally, directed the first two Harry Potter flicks. No. 3 fis “The Breakfast Club.” To me it’s the best of the films that John Hughes wrote and directed. No. 4 is “Silverado.” It’s just a fun Western with Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, and Kevin Costner as the good guys. Black-hatted Brian Dennehy just excels at playing smart-aleck villains. However, my No. 1 movie is the Peter Weir noir-thriller, “Witness.” Harrison Ford was already a star from the “Star Wars” and Indiana Jones franchises, but this film proved he could act in more serious fare. Kelly McGillis is also excellent as the Amish woman, Rachel, who falls in love with Ford’s tough Philadelphia cop. The film has a solid mystery, great action, and heated romance. What more could you ask for?