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Bad Boys : Ride or Die keeps the franchise fresh


The highly anticipated return of the iconic duo, Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), is a thrilling prospect in Columbia Pictures' 'Bad Boys: Ride or Die.' Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, the masterminds behind the franchise's third film, have again taken the reins, while Chris Bremner and Will Beall handle the script with finesse.


When we last left, Mike and Marcus were in charge of AMMO, including weapons expert Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens) and tech expert Dom (Alexander Ludwig). Mike was always building a relationship with his newly discovered and recently jailed son, Armando (Jacob Scipio). The fourth film finds the duo closer than ever, with Marcus enjoying being a grandfather and Mike newly married to a new therapist named Christine (Melanie Liburd).


Their initial excitement is abruptly overshadowed as they are thrust into a labyrinthine web of corruption within the Miami PD. This revelation, following the posthumous accusation of the late Captain Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano), linking him to the Romanian Mafia, sets the stage for a gripping narrative. James McGrath (Eric Dane), the deceptive figure behind these false claims, manipulates Mike and Marcus, casting them as fugitives and coercing them to navigate the murky waters outside the boundaries of the law to uncover the truth.


When a franchise reaches its fourth film, moviegoers may feel that the stars are only in it for the money. However, given the financial success of the previous movie, a fourth outing was all but inevitable. One of the first things I commend the film's script for is stripping away some of the plot armor for the characters we've come to know and love.


Will Smith's Mike undergoes a relatable arc about letting go of the tough guy bravado and acknowledging personal struggles. This journey of vulnerability also extends to Martin Lawrence's Marcus in an early plot point that I won't reveal. Fans can rest assured that the witty one-liners and undeniable chemistry between Smith and Lawrence are still fresh, and both men get an equal share of scene-stealing moments.


The supporting cast of returning characters from the third film also has its moments. I enjoyed seeing Paola Núñez return as Rita Secada, a woman in authority, while Vanessa Hudgens and Alexander Ludwig offer their usual quips. However, the MVP is Jacob Scipio, who has one of the best action sequences in the film, which is only second to a moment I won't reveal.


While there are some great callbacks to the previous films, I found Eric Dane's performance as our lead villain overly cliched, and he's not having fun in the role. Thankfully, there are plenty of action-packed scenes and one-liners to make up for any minor gripes I have.


"Bad Boys: Ride or Die" is a delightful summer film featuring a mix of action, comedy, and undeniable chemistry between its stars.


Final Grade: B+


"Bad Boys: Ride or Die" opens in theaters tomorrow.

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