Comedic actors often fall into certain ruts or hit certain pitfalls that stop them from moving forward. Generally speaking, many of them tend to do the same comedic role over and over and over and over until the audience feels alienated or annoyed. Adam Sandler is a prime example of this, he was once one of the prime comedic actors out there and, love him or hate him, pretty much everyone admits to loving some of his earlier work like Happy Gilmore or The Wedding Singer. However, overtime his movies started to feel repetitive and his roles were essentially carbon copies. It has gotten so bad that, most critics, write off his movies well before they hit the silver screen not unlike a boxing commentator lamenting a once great fighters upcoming match because they don’t think he will stand a chance. Unfortunately, many comedian-turned-actors end up this way, never breaking their own self-made mold. And, Sadly, Kevin Hart seems to be going that way as well. I am one of the few people who review movies on a regular basis that probably still like him as an actor overall, but man… I am starting to feel like he just takes ANY role that is handed to him. He is pumping out movies left and right and it almost feels like he cannot say ‘no’. While Ride Along 2 wasn’t the worst movie I have ever seen, it is certainly one of those roles that Hart should have declined.
Rookie lawman Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) aspires to become a detective like James Payton (Ice Cube), his future brother-in-law. James reluctantly takes Ben to Miami to follow-up on a lead that’s connected to a drug ring. The case brings them to a homicide detective and a computer hacker who reveals evidence that implicates a respected businessman. It’s now up to James and Ben to prove that charismatic executive Antonio Pope is actually a violent crime lord who rules southern Florida’s drug trade
The premise of this film is, as you can probably tell from the above synopsis, a rehash of the original movie. James Payton wants desperately for Ben Barber to give up on his dreams, so he believes that by taking Ben to Miami to work a case with him is a perfect opportunity. He presumes that Ben will fail, be totally depressed and give up on becoming a detective. Does that sound familiar? Take out Miami, and replace ‘Detective’ with ‘Cop’ and you have the same damn plot as the original film. Really the only things that make this film inherently different from the first film is that it also stars Ken Jeong and Olivia Munn as side characters that help fill in some of the gaps when it comes to the actual ‘detecting’ parts of the film. I am never much of a fan for movies that are essentially carbon copies of their originals, just because something is a sequel doesn’t mean that it cannot do something groundbreaking or unique.
Part of what I disliked about the movie was the character of James Payton (Ice Cube). I mean, I get what they were going for– he is the rough and tough cop that doesn’t have time to deal with Ben’s dumb shit, but at times he just seems too mean? I would like it more if Payton was rough on the outside but had a mushy heart– and the movie does try to portray that towards the end of the film, but by then it felt too forced. James Payton is such a self-absorbed asshole that when Barber accidentally shoots someone (and he appears to be dead), Payton just starts yelling at Ben rather than be concerned for the would-be victim. The sad part about Ice Cube’s role is that, from what I have seen in his other films, the man is pretty funny and I think the harshness of his character in the film diminished that humor to some degree.
I will say that I enjoyed a fair amount of the humor in this film, Kevin Hart and especially Ken Jeong are both funny as hell and work well together on-screen. In fact, I would say that’s where the movie had a rise in the hilarity level! Once Jeong and Hart were together, the humor flowed pretty naturally and effortlessly. They both play this sort of annoying tiny people who just get along perfectly and I wanted to see more of it. I also enjoyed one scene in particular in which they are in a car chase and Hart channels his inner gaming to become a badass driver– it was well done and pretty damn funny. However, just like I find the character of James Payton to be a bit much, I feel the same way about some of the jokes. Many were over-the-top and ridiculous and others just felt awkward or forced, especially in regards to the relationship of the two main characters.
The villain in this movie was, also, surprisingly likable. They gave him a bit more personality in comparison to the villain in the first film. Antonio Pope, played by Benjamin Bratt, is the suave and sophisticated main villain that has seemingly sweet-talked his way into fooling everyone around him while he becomes one of the biggest drug smugglers in Miami. But even with that, his character is played so cool and casually that you actually like his character for the most part. Sure, at times his character can be a bit generic, but in a very base sense, so was Hans Gruber from Die Hard, and he is one of the greatest villains of all time (and will be missed!). His character is probably one of the few things that the movie actually got right! Bravo…
At the end of the day, Ride Along 2 is fairly entertaining, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it in theaters to be perfectly honest. There are some laughs and some really great moments in the movie even though the plot is simply a rehash of the original film. I hope the next Barbershop movie displays an Ice Cube that you can at least like, because this film really didn’t have that at all. And, Dammit Kevin, it is okay to say ‘no’ to a role once in a while– trust me, the people will appreciate you more if you do!