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Bad Boys: Ride or Die

Back in 2020, I was shocked to give Bad Boys for Life an A+. Here's the great news. The boys are back in an action packed, laugh-out-loud fourth installment that delivers on every level.

BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE is just as good as its surprise predecessor, thanks to a great story, the return of directors Adil & Bilall, and Smith & Lawrence in fine form.

As the film opens, Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) are speeding through Miami in Lowrey's Porsche on the way to his wedding.

Marcus insists they stop at a convenience store for a ginger ale and Mike gives him 90 seconds in the store.

As an armed robbery ensues and Marcus proceeds to order everything not on his diet, the rapid patter dialogue and big laughs pile up, teeing up a fast moving and suspenseful 115 minute joyride.

A massive conspiracy has engulfed the Miami Police Department and political arena, with drug cartels working closely with key members of law enforcement in an arrangement that the boys beloved, late boss Captain Howard (the hilarious Joe Pantoliano) had discovered just before his death.

When the FBI and politicians announce Howard is crooked, Marcus and Mike go all out to clear his name. The film does a great job of mining new territory out of the "we don't know how high up this conspiracy goes" scenario, mixing superb action scenes with tense and hilarious confrontations.

In the last film, Mike got shot and damn near died. This time, Lawrence gets his chance as Marcus suffers a heart attack. His visions of the afterlife are like some "Contact"-style beach side encounters. Lawrence made me laugh the entire film with his "I'm back from the dead and invincible" spirit and renewed lust for life.

The cast is excellent.

Eric Dane (X-Men: The Last Stand, Grey's Anatomy) is perfectly cast as McGrath, our main villain, a former military man out for cash over country. He's surrounded himself with a very bad-ass rogues gallery of an army.

Jacob Scipio is back and excellent as Armando, an imprisoned key to the puzzle with special ties to Mike.

Alexander Ludwig (Midway, Vikings) returns as the boys team member Dorn, with more muscle than brains in his everyday life.

Ioan Gruffudd (Titanic, King Arthur) is excellent as Lockwood, the one politician on Mike and Marcus' side as they try to clear Howard's name.

Dennis Greene is a scene stealer as Marcus' son Reggie, a Marine who proves his skills when bad guys enter Marcus' home. It's a killer scene, one of many.

Tiffany Haddish (Night School, The Haunted Mansion), former NBA champ John Salley (returning as Fletcher) and DJ Khaled all contribute to the laughs.

A showdown at an art gallery is a bullet riddled blast , but nothing compared to the Cuba set showdown at an abandoned amusement part that concludes the film.

Adil & Bilall move their camera up, around and through the action in ways that conjure up the best of John Wick, but with a lot more humor. We follow guns, bullets, drones and bad guys, but never lose track of the action.

A helicopter transport gone wrong is a jaw dropper, with the special effects and sound design teams delivering one hell of a flight.

Lorne Balfe composed the music for last year's "Top Gun: Maverick" and returns from the last Bad Boys installment with fresh takes on the music themes we know well, blending them well with the sounds of Miami beach for an almost wall-to-wall score.

The chemistry between Smith and Lawrence feels as fresh as the first film, but improved with everything these characters have been through since the first film in 1995, nearly 30 years ago!!!!!

Smith is insanely likable as Mike and hasn't aged a bit. With a huge opening weekend, this one should have great word of mouth and box office legs to spare in June.

The most fun I've had in a theater so far in 2024, BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE gets another A+ for the series. I'm hoping the boys reunite with Adil &Bilall for another installment. Don't keep us waiting another four years.

As long as the movies are this funny, thrilling and enjoyable, let's keep 'em coming.

"Bad boys, Bad boys, whatcha gonna do...."

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