'Ride Along 2': Film Review
Ice Cube and Kevin Hart do their patented bickering-buddy shtick in this sequel to the 2014 hit.
Not daring to mess with the formula that resulted in its predecessor hitting a worldwide gross of over $150 million, Ride Along 2 reunites Ice Cube and Kevin Hart as the mismatched cop duo who somehow manage to solve cases while constantly bickering. Showcasing Cube's trademark scowl and Hart's all-around goofiness to crowd-pleasing, if not exactly scintillating, comic effect, this sequel, arriving two years to the month after the original, should enjoy equally robust box-office returns.
The plot of this effort is essentially the same as before. Veteran Atlanta detective James Payton (Cube), whose coolness is signified by his wearing sunglasses at night, reluctantly agrees to let the bumbling Ben Barber (Hart), now a beat cop and soon to be his brother-in-law, ride along on a major case. This time it involves a road trip to Miami, with the two men eventually tangling with Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt), a crooked businessman and smuggler of all things illicit.
Also prominently figuring in the proceedings is Ken Jeong as AJ, a computer hacker who serves as the comic relief a la Joe Pesci in the Lethal Weapon movies, and Oliva Munn as Maya, a no-nonsense Miami detective who also happens to be insanely hot. The film provides plenty of opportunities for Munn to show off the latter attribute, since her character is the sort of cop who shows up at a crime scene wearing yoga pants and a halter top and who, when going undercover, rocks a skintight, cleavage-baring dress.
Depending almost entirely on the chemistry of its two leads, the pic essentially consists of a series of their Abbott and Costello-style routines punctuated by the occasional car chase or shootout. An extended set piece involves Hart and Jeong (and their stunt doubles) in a vigorous foot chase through Little Havana, naturally accompanied on the soundtrack by Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine's "Conga."
The action sequences are for the most part perfunctorily staged, with the exception of a lengthy car chase that amusingly incorporates videogame-style computer graphics.
With a storyline less challenging than that of a typical CBS crime procedural, Ride Along 2 is little more than a repetitive rehash of the original. Cube still glowers while uttering sardonic wisecracks and Hart enthusiastically throws himself into every bit of raucous physical comedy as if his life depended on it. Jeong does his patented goofy shtick; Tika Sumpter remains appealing as Ben's ultra-tolerant fiancée; Munn more than holds her own in the action department; and Bratt proves a suave if overly verbose villain. Less effective is Sherri Shepherd as the wedding planner whose constant head-butting with Ben provides one of the more tired running gags. Tyrese Gibson also shows up for a brief cameo, as if he happened to wander over from the set of a Fast and Furious movie.
The Miami setting provides the impetus both for the requisite, numerous shots of sexy girls in bikinis and for Hart to wear a series of increasingly garish outfits that render him a walking sight gag.
Production: Will Packer Productions, Cubevision
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Cast: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt, Olivia Munn, Bruce McGill, Tika Sumpter, Sherri Shepherd
Director: Tim Story
Screenwriters: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Producers: Will Packer, Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez, Larry Brezner
Executive producers: Nicolas Stern, Ron Muhammad, Scott Bernstein, Chris Bender, JC Spink
Director of photography: Mitchell Amundsen
Production designer: Chris Cornwell
Editor: Peter S. Elliot
Costume designer: Olivia Miles
Composer: Christopher Lennertz
Casting: Felicia Fasano
Rated PG-13, 102 minutes