Like its 2014 predecessor, there’s really only so much you can say about Ride Along 2. Tim Story directs this sequel with exactly the same ambitions as Ride Along and the results are pretty much the same. The script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, who had their mitts on the original and wrote other such gems as R.I.P.D. and Æon Flux, leaves aside anything meaningful.
What remains is the vehicle for stars Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, who are up to the same business of exchanging barbs and drawing on existing chemistry. In a seemingly self-aware observation, Ride Along 2’s poster proclaims that Training Day is over, which essentially leads to a change in venues and a promotion for one of the two leads.
This time, the venue is Miami and Benjamin Bratt is Antonio Pope, a crime lord who is immediately revealed as the villain of the piece. Ken Jeong is A.J., his hacker employee, and it turns out Pope has had some money stolen. Back in Atlanta, detective James Payton (Cube) and officer Ben Barber (Hart) discover a connection to Miami when tracking a drug dealer.
They are sent to Florida to check it out, which causes some friction between Ben and his new bride (Tika Sumpter). Miami homicide detective Maya Cruz (Olivia Munn) proves helpful in checking out connections between the sought-after drug dealer and eventually the trail leads to Pope, which subsequently leads to stakeouts and other assorted bits of police business.
By this point, it’s apparent that the creators of Ride Along and Ride Along 2 have nothing short of a franchise on their minds. They’ve come up with a sort of pop culture candy that works more on a promotional level than it does on an actual level, with Hart and Cube spinning the wheel and getting into hilarious late night talk show sketches that overshadow the actual content.
But as much fun as the business around the movie might be, there’s still a movie here. Kind of. Ride Along 2 puts the same parts in motion, with a few minor adjustments, and sets off on the same path. Rather than having the two lead characters trying to get along for the first time, they have a bickering history and there’s a wedding to concern themselves with.
Most of the character details, such as they are, are referenced in passing and it’s assumed that audiences will know who Payton and Barber are. This is underlined during a car chase, when Story decides it’s a good idea to invoke a dinky-looking video game filter over the action so that we can see the world through Barber’s eyes as he gets away from some enemies.
These choices represent Ride Along 2’s kitchen sink approach, which doesn’t even have the decency to spring for quality special effects when it comes to its cornerstone alligator sequence. It tries damn near everything else, employing the tough-but-hot chick stereotype with Munn’s character that just so happens to come in handy when it’s time to dance – literally dance – with the bad guy.
It should be noted that there are some laughs, which may or may not make this comparatively lethargic motion picture a step above its predecessor. A fast-talking comic like Hart, whose best work is still in stand-up, has the opportunity to stretch out some sequences to really own the material. A bit on ringtones works really well.
Ride Along 2 seems to have traded in on the gun fetishism of its predecessor, with Miami’s ass-laden landscape replacing the bullet-heavy euphoria previously accepted as the norm. That’s not a bad thing in terms of aesthetic delights and Munn’s function is immediately clear, at least in terms of pinning down the demographic.
But really, there’s not much point in hammering this out further. Ride Along 2 is just one of those things we have to accept. It’s already made a ridiculous amount of cash and it will, in all likelihood, spawn a Ride Along 3. And when it comes to that inevitable moment, we’ll probably have more of the same to talk about.