As my readers may know, I didn’t like the first one… at all. I might say that it looked like the sequel had made improvements, but I wasn’t excited to see it. But, since it was the only movie I hadn’t seen that my theatre had, and I was in the neighborhood anyway, figured I might as well just bite the bullet. This is my honest opinion of RIDE ALONG 2.
James (Ice Cube) and Ben (Kevin Hart) are back. After Ben nearly screws up a case involving drugs, they find out their convict’s supplier is in Miami. Although James is assigned to the case, he naturally doesn’t want Ben along for the ride. But Ben wants to prove himself, since he’s fresh out of the academy. But after some persuasion from James’ sister and Ben’s future wife, Angela (Tika Sumpter), whom also just wants Ben to go away and stop butting heads with their wedding planner, James reluctantly agrees to take him along, if only to prove to Ben that he’s not cut out for the more hardcore police work. Upon arrival to Miami, they get in touch with the police department and team up with tough-as-nails homicide detective Maya Cruz (Olivia Munn) and begin a hunt for the nefarious crime lord, Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt).
Alright, despite some improvements here and there, it’s still not a good movie.
What are the improvements? Well, the last movie didn’t make me laugh at all. This one did. The slap-stick worked for me and James served as an adequate comic foil. Speaking of the character James, I didn’t have a problem with him here. In the first movie, he was simply unlikable and garnered no sympathy from me as a character. He was too mean-spirited in a way that, obviously, wasn’t enjoyable. Here, he’s better written. He’s still a grumpy asshole, but even if he isn’t particularly funny, he’s passable. Also, Benjamin Bratt’s inclusion feels right. He’s a decent actor and always churns out a good performance. He’s menacing and a little more memorable than the last villain (whom I don’t remember at all). And as always, I am a big fan of Olivia Munn. I know the woman hasn’t been in the best or most high-profile movies, but she’s got quite a year ahead of her what with X-MEN APOCALYPSE in the near future. I know she can act, but she’s never had a decent role to prove it (in MORTDECAI, she played a slut. Gee wiz, a hot exotic woman playing a slut in Hollywood, what a stretch…). I think this is the first big role that showcased what she can do. Maya is a fun second comic foil to Ben and Ken Jeong’s A.J. She may be my favorite part of the movie and it’s one saving grace.
However, having said all that, let me start tackling the problems. Remember when I said that it was funnier? It is… the last third of the movie is.
The first two-thirds of the movie is Ben still being an annoying, whiny character whose voice only gets more aggravating to listen to as the movie progresses. He never shuts up. While his video-gaming comparisons to real life are toned down, he’s still a fucking dumb-ass. Plus, there’s this weird sequence where he’s driving to get away from some bad guys and his vision turns into video game graphics so he can “get in the mode,” or some fuck. Now, some may argue, “he loves video games, Daniel. I think it makes sense for the character.” I argue, it WOULD, if that was a repeating choice that was made throughout the movies. Not once in the last movie did he see graphics when he was involved in a shootout, nor does this weird acid-trip happen again in this movie. It’s literally just that one time. It’s like the film-makers were saying, “let’s cut down on the cost of having a high speed chase and just make them video game graphics.” It’s lazy as hell and, you guessed it, not remotely funny (hell, the graphics aren’t even that impressive). Trust me, I have a lot more to complain about when it comes to Ben, but I’d be going on too long and I need to change the subject.
Funny enough, James is no longer the unlikable character in the movie. Now it’s Angela. Seriously, the woman won’t let Ben talk to their wedding planner about what he wants or doesn’t want in the wedding. She just lets this bitch talk down to him and even wants him out of the picture so the wedding can be planned by the professional. What kind of wife does that?! Unless Ben explicitly said that he doesn’t want to be involved in the planning and wants to leave it all to the planner, then fine, but he has his own ideas and the planner is completely shutting him down and Angela has no reaction whatsoever. I take that back, she has one. Convince James to get him out of her hair. Oh, what, is your fiance annoying you and you don’t like it? Um, YOU’RE MARRYING HIM!!! Do you really think he’s not going to be a handful for the next sixty, seventy years down the road? You’re choosing NOW to notice his annoyances? Dick move, woman, and don’t think your soft tone and million dollar smile fools anybody. You’re being a bitch.
Before I wrap this up, I do have one final complaint.
During the climax, there’s a shootout (of course). By this point in the story, James and Ben are in trouble with their boss; James about to face suspension and Ben fired from the police force. There’s a bit where Ben is driving a fork lift and he’s getting shot at by one of Pope’s henchman. Ben pulls out his gun and fires back, effectively killing the henchman. There’s a split-second pause where Ben is looking at his gun and the body on the ground with a troubled look on his face. That split second particularly stands out because Ben hasn’t killed anyone before. Now he has and it looks like it’s had a profound impact on him.
My mind is racing with possibilities. Does Ben realize that killing is also part of police work? Is he thinking to himself that work as a detective may not be the best move career choice after all? I’m thinking to myself that toward the end, James is going to give his approval, saying something like, “alright, Ben, I think you got what it takes. If you want to go into detective work, you got my support.” And then Ben would be like, “you know, James, I do still want to work as a cop, but I killed a guy. I don’t think that’s something I can handle doing. I think I’m not going to be a detective after all.” This would provide a fine message to the movie that maybe your chosen career path may yield obstacles that you may not want to face and it’ll be a deal breaker, forcing you figure out another way. A better way. I may be predicting it, but it’s a prediction I WANTED to be right about.
But what does the movie do? It ends. That standout shot of him being affected by killing a man goes nowhere. Never referenced or mentioned again. That shot was rendered pointless. The movie just ends on the wedding for him and Angela. Granted, James’ toast is pretty nice for someone whose been against Angela and Ben being together. Still, there was a better ending that could have happened here and I was disappointed that it didn’t. I probably shouldn’t have been, but I was. If the ending was how I think it could have gone, I would have said this movie was okay; not funny for most of it, but a strong message at the end would have saved the movie entirely. But I am left with the ending that I got, which was funny, but not nearly as strong.
Recycling the predictable humor from the last movie, it’s an unfunny mess. While I might like this movie better than the first one, and the last third and Munn do kind of save the film for me, I still can’t bring myself to like it.