The Sterling Standard in Movie Reviews 

Follow Us On:



A Bumpy Ride

Universal Pictures
 102 Minutes
Rated: R
Directed byTim Story 
Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart
Ride Along 2

It’s not surprising that Ride Along 2, the sequel to the surprisingly successful 2014 action buddy movie, Ride Along, has even more explosions, gun fights, and car and foot chases than the original did. It’s also not surprising that stars Ice Cube and Kevin Hart act in the exact same ways they did in the original movie, with Cube’s James Payton just as sullen and grumpy and Hart’s Ben Barber just as motor mouthed and moronic. And it’s certainly not surprising that the movie has far more cop movie clichés than original plot ideas. No, what is surprising is that Ride Along 2 isn’t a total disaster, thanks mainly to the few new elements in the sequel.


The plot hook in the first movie was the idea that perpetual screw-up security guard Ben was engaged to maverick Atlanta police detective James’s incredibly sexy sister (Tika Sumpter). At the end of the movie, James reluctantly gave his blessing to the upcoming nuptials. By the time Ride Along 2 comes around, the wedding is only a week away. By now, Ben is a rookie with the Atlanta Police Department and still as much of a screw-up as before. As the sequel opens, Ben is back up to his old tricks, trying to involve himself in his brother-in-law’s undercover operation to bring down a major drug dealer.


After the sting operation goes predictably sour and James’s partner (Tyrese Gibson) is wounded in the ensuing shootout, Ben winds up getting one more chance to save his career, thanks largely to his fiancée, who persuades her brother to vouch for Ben one last time. The two go down to Miami, where they soon discover that the man behind the drug shipments is wealthy industrialist Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt), who fancies himself becoming the criminal mastermind for all of south Florida (or perhaps the world). For a master criminal though, Pope is Dr.-Evil-stupid enough to entrust details of his plans to A.J. (Ken Jeong), a computer whiz who’s an even more annoying motormouth than Ben. Naturally, A.J. winds up on the same side as Ben, a development that allows James to glower and threaten even more often having to listen to two nitwits instead of just one.


Fortunately for James, the other new character in Ride Along 2 is far more appealing. He and Ben find themselves working with Detective Maya Cruz (Olivia Munn), James’s dream partner. In addition to her beauty and brains, she is willing to slap Ben around whenever he does something exceedingly stupid, which occurs approximately every five minutes in this movie. And, fortunately for the audience, which should be grateful for whatever small favors it receives in Ride Along 2, Munn brings some badly needed life and energy to her role.


The same cannot be said for most of the rest of the supporting cast, the screenwriters , or director Tim Story. The latter falls into the usual sequel trap of substituting quantity for quality. The explosions are bigger here than in the first movie, and both a foot chase that seems to take Ben through every back yard in Miami in pursuit of A.J. and a car chase that seems to go on forever will have the audience tapping their watches. The action scenes are pretty much routine, with the exception of the aforementioned car chase, which allows video game fanatic Ben to imagine he’s at the wheel in his favorite game, at which point the movie screen is transformed into a giant version of said game, complete with an animated version of an exceedingly angry James.


Sadly, the animated James is livelier than the actual Ice Cube, who has played this type of  outwardly tough guy so often he can do so in his sleep, as he appears to be for large portions of this movie. While Ice Cube at one time brought his real life dangerous persona to the screen, he has mellowed so much (in large part through a series of dumb comedies just like this one) that he can’t help but project the notion that his mean attitude is all for show.


Co-star Kevin Hart has plenty of energy, as he has in every movie role, but the actor is by now approaching the Chris Tucker stage of audience burnout. None of his nonstop patter and frantic doubletakes seems new or fresh. Allowing him to play off the equally hyper Jeong is one of the few good ideas the filmmakers had in Ride Along 2. Their shtick appears largely improvised and occasionally clever, which is more than I can say about the rest of the movie.


For the most part, the script of Ride Along 2 is a textbook case in sloppy writing. Characters are clichéd and act in precisely the manner needed to advance the plot. The level of actual police work in the movie is comparable to what was seen on an episode of The Andy Griffith Show half a century ago, except that Kevin Hart isn’t nearly as engaging onscreen as Don Knotts was. At one point in the movie, James explains to Maya that, while almost everything Ben does is incredibly stupid, he occasionally displays some tremendous crime-solving insight that justifies keeping him around. If James actually displayed such insight during the 102 agonizingly long minutes of Ride Along 2, I must have missed it.


Veteran filmgoers know that January is the dumping ground for movies so bad that audiences wouldn’t dream of seeing them if they had other alternatives. By that token, Ride Along 2 is in a special subcategory of the January release. It’s a January release that’s a sequel to another January release and stars an actor who seems to be making a career out of headlining January releases. The best thing to be said about the movie is that it’s not as bad as it could have been. Still, audiences can doubtless find something better to occupy their time instead of going along for yet another interminable ride with Kevin hart and Ice Cube.

Read other reviews of Ride Along 2:


Ride Along 2 (2016) on IMDb