In the not-so-distant-past, the mega-corporation that is Hollywood didn’t have much faith in the first “Ride Along.” The box office strength was a “wake-up call” and a strong reflection of the deep pockets of our community, but industry insiders considered the numbers a “fluke” because the film was a “Black-centric genre.”
That lack of faith echoed loudly, and most industry insiders doubted that the success could be duplicated and carefully shaped into a “high-concept, lucrative franchise,” but that’s exactly what happened.
A positive or negative film review for “Ride Along 2” will have very little impact because it will all come down to grass-root “word of mouth.”
The question is simple: Is the sequel funny? The answer is not really, but it’s funny enough to keep the gravy train moving, and that’s good for cast, crew, industry and community.
Tim Story is a bright man. He designed an action-packed, buddy-cop comedy with international appeal, adding the very excellent work of funny man Ken Jeong, Olivia Munn, Benjamin Bratt, Tika Sumpter and, in a cameo role, Sherri Shepherd.
The story kept to the formula, and the plot is simple. Now a rookie police officer, Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) wants nothing more than to step into the shoes of his future brother-in-law, detective James Payton (Ice Cube). As Ben prepares for his upcoming nuptials to James’ sister (Tika Sumpter), the frustration to “prove himself” is the center of all the jokes and, frankly, the entire movie.
When James goes to Miami to follow a lead on a drug ring, Ben whines himself along for the dangerous adventure. To be fair, cracking the case does require brain power, which the diminutive Ben has in abundance.
As movie bad guys go, Story created a very good one in the charismatic executive Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt), a man who is living a duplicitous life. In the public’s eye, he is a billionaire philanthropist, but in reality, with the help of a brilliant but greedy computer hacker (Ken Jeong), he is “minting money” on everything illegal, dangerous and lucrative, including importing whale meat.
Bang! Bang! Bang! That is the sound of Miami once Ben and James hit the steamy, sexy city.
Comedically, they both stand out and become early targets for elimination. Helping them stay alive is an attractive and tough-as-nails Miami detective (Olivia Munn), who has a minor flirtation with an equally non-cuddly James. There is a weak flicker of a possible romance and maybe an indicator to something larger in the third (possible) installment in the “Ride Along ” franchise.
There is very little story, with some weak shreds trying to cling to a wedding planning “conflict” over hydrangeas, which James’ does not want and the wedding planner has already ordered: OK?
Most of the best comedy is showcased in the trailer, including a hilarious encounter between Hart and a hungry alligator.
For action junkies “Ride Along 2” will not disappoint. There are chases and cars that blow up. Bullets keep flying, and the looming question is whether they’ll bring down the villain in time for the (anti) climactic wedding.
“Ride Along 2,” directed by Tim Story (Universal Pictures), is now playing.