Is it worth $10? NO!
At its worst, “Ride Along 2” is a lazy, stupid, and sexist movie with a script that would have been considered cliché back in the ‘80s when buddy-cop movies like this were at the height of their popularity. At its best, it’s merely competent. And with its flat lighting scheme, boring shot selection and listless performances, every banal second of this flick (and I hate the word flick, but I will definitely call this a flick) is a virtual ode to competence. It does just enough to pass as a professionally made movie and nothing more. Garbage that it is, I actually wish the movie had been incompetent. At least I would have had something to laugh at. Instead, this “comedy” is the filmic equivalent of wallpaper.
Ice Cube and Kevin Hart return from the original (unseen by me, and after this sequel, so it shall remain) as James and Ben, respectively. Ben is now a rookie police officer and James is…Ice Cube. Days before Ben’s wedding to James’s sister (Tika Sumpter), the soon to be brothers-in law head from Atlanta to Miami following a case that eventually leads them to a respected businessman and secret crime lord (Benjamin Bratt, a fine actor reduced to playing a stereotype here), who is about to unfurl a nefarious plan. With the help of a local homicide detective (an uncharacteristically stiff Olivia Munn) and a master hacker (an unfunny Ken Jeong), the duo attempt to thwart this criminal mastermind. Hilarity and action ensue.
Except, they don’t ensue. The movie is never funny. Oh, Kevin Hart tries, but his apoplectic demeanor is more irritating than funny, though credit to him, as he seems to be the only one who’s truly trying. Ice Cube, on the other hand, just glares and looks bored, while Olivia Munn tries not to look constipated (she fails).
The actors fail to be funny and so does the script (by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi). An example of the humor: Ken Jeong’s A. J. demands that Ben eat discarded nachos from a garbage can. Believing this to be the only way to gain A.J.’s trust, he proceeds to remove a thick strand of hair from the food and eat it. Not funny. Of course, the audience at my screening erupted in cacophonous laughter at this, so what do I know? And the action? Strictly by the numbers without an iota of style or excitement.
Hilariously, it’s also cheap. A car chase that acts as the film’s centerpiece actually switches to video game level graphics throughout. The excuse for this is that Ben is a gaming fanatic and thusly begins to see the chase as a video game. Of course, this gag is less about being funny and really just a way to have a budget conscious car chase where actual stunts can be replaced with bottom of the barrel effects. This scene illustrates again the bare minimum of effort exhibited by the filmmakers (Tim Story is credited as director), though the frugality almost borders on brilliance. Almost.
At this point I usually try to find something, anything, positive to say about the movie I’m reviewing. I have only one thing: I actually came close to a genuine chuckle/laugh near the very end of the film when James, noticing Ben is wearing a bulletproof vest, uses him as a human shield. It’s not that funny, but Hart’s expression when he realizes what has happened is perfect.
I also, begrudgingly, will admit to being pleased that Ben, annoying as he is, isn’t written as a complete idiot. He actually contributes to the case and moves the plot along.
But that’s all the movie has in its favor, and it’s not much: one laugh, one decent character trait. If this movie were a color, it would be beige. If it were a word, it would be “meh.” I could figuratively smell the “who cares?” wafting from the screen. Indeed, that odor was so toxic that by the time Kevin Hart began wrestling a computer generated alligator, I gave in to the noxious fumes and allowed sleep to take me away from the purgatory that the movie theater had temporarily become. I was only pulled back from my sweet oblivion by two things: a snore so loud it could only have emanated from deep within my throat, and the steely glare of my good friend sitting next to me. No, he wasn’t embarrassed by my social faux pas, he was mad that my slumber left him to deal with the movie by himself.