Critics Have Seen Bad Boys: Ride Or Die, And They’re Split Over Whether The New Sequel Is ‘Top Tier’ Or ‘Depressingly Half-Hearted’

 Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys: Ride or Die.
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys: Ride or Die.

If you’ve spent the past few years craving more antics from Detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, this is a great week for you, as Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back reprising their roles first introduced in 1995 for the fourth installment of their buddy cop series, Bad Boys: Ride or Die. This time around, the odd-couple cops will turn their focus on corruption within the Miami Police Department as they seek to clear the name of the late Capt. Conrad Howard. Critics have seen the movie ahead of its June 7 release, and they are divided over how successful the sequel is.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have promised that Bad Boys 4 won’t be merely a victory lap — it’s possibly not even the end of the franchise. The stars say they really went for it in this fourth movie, and the reactions from early screenings seem to be in line with that sentiment. As for CinemaBlend’s review of Bad Boys: Ride or Die, our own Eric Eisenberg says die-hard fans will love this movie, but that’s about it. He gives it 2 stars out of 5, writing:

Keeping in mind that this is a franchise that launched with Michael Bay at the helm, I fully understand that the diehards are not going into Bad Boys: Ride Or Die with a particular expectation for high-powered action that is fueled by a smart and clever screenplay… and this film is almost exclusively for them. Those with a more tepid relationship with this canon will clearly see that despite the action sequences successfully raising heart rates, everything else about it is running out of steam. Little common ground will likely be found between those two halves of the movie-going audience, but at the very least, there will probably be some agreement between both sides labeling it the worst of the series.

Some Critics Agree Bad Boys 4 Feels ‘Depressingly Half-Hearted’

Brian Tallerico of agrees, saying the fourth film in the series “aggressively” repeats a lot of the same beats as Bad Boys for Life, except they were done better in the 2020 offering. Even the chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence isn’t as tight, Tallerico says, with many jokes falling flat. The critic continues:

Ride or Die checks all the boxes of a movie like this in a way that feels depressingly half-hearted, afraid to do anything new or creative. It admittedly comes to life in spurts primarily through its hyperkinetic photography and editing. Still, it lacks enough spontaneity or ingenuity, completely content to go through the motions by taking as few risks as possible. It turns out that there was a third option: Ride, Die, or Tread Water.

Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter writes that after four movies, this comedic partnership is starting to feel a little strained. He says of Bad Boys: Ride Or Die:

Watching Will Smith’s Mike and Martin Lawrence’s Marcus go through their familiar comedic bickering routines has become like spending an evening with a long-married couple whose constant sniping has grown wearisome. In the opening scene, Mike chides Marcus for his addiction to junk food and you think, ‘Again?’

Others Praise Ride Or Die As A ‘Top-Tier’ Action Comedy

Despite the opinions of the above critics, many think Bad Boys: Ride or Die is exactly the kind of movie summer audiences are looking for. Owen Gleiberman of Variety gives in to the dumb fun, saying the actors and the franchise are so far past being too old for this shit that “perhaps the only thing left to do is to ramp up the trash nostalgia to new levels of shameless overkill.” Gleiberman writes:

There’s a hypnotic shootout aboard a military helicopter, a crowd-pleasing encounter at an NRA encampment, a rollicking finale at a Florida theme park abandoned by everyone but its crocodiles, as well as attitude-drenched cameos from Tiffany Haddish, DJ Khaled, and Michael Bay. Mostly, though, there are Smith and Lawrence, making yesterday’s overcooked street-smart popcorn seem tastier today than it has any right to be.

Bill Bria of SlashFilm rates it an 8 out of 10, saying Bad Boys 4 is a blast, as it perfectly combines action, comedy and emotion. It’s so vibrant, Bria writes, that it has a stronger sense than its predecessors of what a Bad Boys movie is and makes a case for the franchise to continue. The critic gets hints of the Fast & Furious movies here too, with its emphasis on family, adding:

Unlike the folks from the Fast films, however, the Bad Boys aren't elevated to near-super heroic status; Smith, Lawrence, [and directors] Adil & Bilall keep Mike and Marcus winningly human. They're adult men who suffer from heart attacks and panic attacks as much as they leap over cars and make impossible shots with their pistols. That special, magic mixture of grounded heart with over-the-top action and comedy is what makes a Bad Boys film, and make no mistake: Ride or Die is not only a great Bad Boys film, it's also a top-tier action comedy.

Eric Goldman of IGN also rates the film a “Great” 8 out of 10. He also compares Bad Boys: Ride or Die to the Fast series and says the directors are the true stars of this movie in how they invoke the style of the first two flicks while adding their own twist. Goldman writes:

Following the franchise refresh of Bad Boys For Life, Ride or Die delivers the Bad Boys version of Fast Five: a sequel that takes the best parts of the earlier films in a long-running franchise and builds and expands upon them in a big way. Bad Boys: Ride or Die provides a much more entertaining package than what came before, with thrilling and inventive action direction from Adil & Bilall. Yes, it’s as over the top and silly as ever, but it’s done with more panache and genuine wit than before, proving these Bad Boys, even at their older age, can still deliver.

Suffice it to say, if you’re a fan of the first three Bad Boys movies, you’ll likely want to check this one out. As for the more casual fans, you’ll have to decide which of the above critics resonate with you the most. Ride or Die currently holds a 70% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes from more than 40 assessments.

Those who choose to give it a go can head to the theater starting Friday, June 7. Also be sure to check out our 2024 Movie Release Schedule to see what other movies are hitting the big screen soon.