Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 101 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 14+. This sequel to the buddy comedy ‘Ride Along’ is pretty much more of the same: some cursing, lots of sexually themed language and jokes, homophobic jokes, implied sexual content (including premarital sex and women in revealing lingerie), a good amount of nudity and implied nudity (including lingerie, revealing bathing suits, and outfits), and some violence, with car chases, explosions, many characters shot and killed, criminals who deal drugs and guns, and characters playing violent video games.
‘Ride Along 2’ stretches the premise of the original paper-thin, with pretty much the exact same plot rehashed in the exact same way. The unlikely glee of the original is thoroughly gone this time around.
By Roxana Hadadi
At some point Kevin Hart and Ice Cube will play characters outside of their comfort zones, but that time is not now, and that movie is not “Ride Along 2.” The sequel to their 2014 buddy-cop comedy recreates practically every beat of the original “Ride Along,” and the pair is a lot less funny this time around. Laughs are practically nonexistent here.
In the previous film, Kevin Hart (of “Think Like a Man Too”) played nerdy video-game aficionado Ben Barber. Ben is anxious and fawning around his girlfriend Angela’s (Tika Sumpter, of “Get on Up”) protective brother James (Ice Cube, of “22 Jump Street”), who is a veteran detective with the Atlanta Police Department. They spar over a lot of things – Ben criticizes James’s lack of emotion, James thinks that Ben isn’t masculine – and a friendship doesn’t seem likely.
But over the course of “Ride Along,” Ben begrudgingly earns James’s respect when he helps him uncover a crime ring and applies his video game knowledge to the real world, and the film ended with Ben following through on his dream of enrolling in the police academy. “Ride Along 2” picks up where the former left off: Ben has graduated from the police academy and has started his career as a beat cop, while James is investigating an arms dealer.
Yet not much has changed in terms of their interpersonal dynamics: “You’re just a rookie,” James scoffs, and he shrugs away Ben’s success in “Ride Along” as a lucky break. When James’s case leads him to a hacker in Florida, he decides to bring Ben along not because he thinks he’ll be an asset, but because he’s sure Ben will screw up so badly that he’ll be fired. And although Ben’s wedding to Angela is only a few days away, he goes on the trip to Miami because he thinks James actually wants him there – not knowing it’s actually professional sabotage.
In Miami is where the cast of characters expands, with James and Ben tracking down the hacker A.J. (Ken Jeong, of “The DUFF”), teaming up with grumpy, beautiful detective Maya (Olivia Munn, of “Magic Mike”), and getting mixed up in a case that seems far larger than the arms dealing they had originally been investigating. Can the “brothers in law,” as Ben so desperately wants them to be, solve their case and end up developing a real familial relationship in the process?
It’s honestly impressive how blatantly the filmmakers behind “Ride Along 2” just copied their own idea for this sequel, but it’s not clever like how “The Hangover 2” was. There is too much boredom and desperation here. Hart is his usual manic, motor-mouthed self, but his constant characterization as feminine – with a high-pitched scream, outfits including kimonos, and his height – is exhausting early. Hart is working too hard, but Ice Cube is barely working; he seems to be sleepwalking through his character’s disgust at his future brother-in-law. And Munn, like so many female characters in these kinds of films, is sexualized for no purpose, running around in platform boots during a shootout with the bad guys. Because that’s what a practical, seasoned police detective would do!
Ultimately “Ride Along 2” feels like a fraud, an amplification of everything that was irritating about its successful predecessor without anything new or creative. With a villain who has dialogue like “I’m really, really rich,” a good guy who eagerly uses a “me so horny” joke, and a variety of scantily clad women who stand around doing nothing at all, “Ride Along 2” is one bad choice after another. Don’t make another one by seeing it.
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