The 2014 Tim Story-directed film, Ride Along was a success, and a sizable one. It should therefore come as no surprise that the Kevin Hart-Ice Cube film now has a sequel. Ride Along 2, which reunites Hart, Cube, and Story, has exactly what you would expect from such a movie – more.
Yes, Ride Along 2 (why, oh, why didn’t they call it Ride Alonger) has more explosions and chases and bad guys and silliness. The only thing it has less of, is laughs. It isn’t that the movie is wholly devoid of laughs, it’s just that they come less often and elicit more of a chuckle than a laugh of the full on belly variety. It is a movie where good ideas aren’t carried out and which seems to take a page from every other buddy cop action sequel ever.
Without getting too bogged down in the story, Ride Along 2 finds James Payton (Cube) and Ben Barber (Hart) down in Miami to question a guy, A.J. (Ken Jeong), about a thing. There is this new bad guy in Atlanta and he’s some how tied to Miami and don’t worry about it… the point is that they go down to Miami and muck about and get in trouble with the police captain down there and nearly get themselves fired and killed and blown up more than once. Our bad guy this time out, rather than being faceless which was actually sort of fun in the first film, is Benjamin Bratt’s Antonio Pope, a seemingly upstanding citizen with a fortune who is actually smuggler because he wants a bigger fortune. Really. villain is a rich guy who has a smuggling ring because he wants to be richer.
That isn’t the point of the movie though. The point is the love-hate relationship between James and Ben. Fortunately, that part of the movie still works. Cube’s semi-slow burn combined with Hart’s nonstop antics do find some jokes that land, even if neither character has remotely grown coming out of the events of the first movie. Yes, the reference Ben thinking he’s going to be a great cop because of what happened last time out, but he thought he was going to be a great cop from the beginning of that movie so it’s not really growth. Ride Along 2 is really, essentially, just the same thing again. But in Miami. And with a villain we can see. And Ken Jeong goofing around. And Olivia Munn as Maya, an officer and love interest for James.
Also back is Ben’s love of video games. This time rather than squad-based FPS action, Ben’s playing more Grand Theft Auto style stuff. In what ought to be a great moment in the film, Ben is behind the wheel during a car chase and starts seeing the world as the game. It is clever and funny and almost instantly undercut when the film cuts back to the real world and then goes back to the game and maybe throws in a couple half real world-half game moments, etc.
Ben’s application of video games to the real world is one of those things that actually works in the franchise and turns this guy who is a clown into an actual person capable of some sort of success. That works even when he sees things as a game, but Story’s weird decision to not stick with the game thing for the length of the chase is just visually confusing and in no way conveys the sense that Ben is applying his knowledge. Instead it feels like they didn’t have the courage of their convictions, that they weren’t sure people would buy it and so didn’t carry it through. It would have been better left out entirely.
Fans of Tika Sumpter’s Angela (James’ sister and Ben’s fiancée) will be somewhat disappointed to know that she is sidelined for much of the film. She stays in Atlanta trying to plan her very quickly approaching nuptials to Ben and really just pops up from time-to-time to remind Ben (and the audience) that the wedding really is coming soon. We also get to see her interact with their wedding planner (played by Sherri Shepherd), but there is very little to it.
Throughout Ride Along 2 there are plot flaws and logic gaps and some easy jokes mixed in with a few more clever moments. It is the sort of movie where the audience leaves thinking that they have down much of the plot for Ride Along 3 already (Ben and Angela will be expecting a baby, James or Maya will be scared about the next step in their relationship) and assuredly, if Ride Along 2 is remotely as successful as the original, there’s going to be a Ride Along 3.
photo credit: Universal Pictures