Two years ago I reviewed the first Ride Along film, and to be quite frank I wasn’t a fan. Now its sequel finds its way way to HBO, and surprisingly enough it improves dramatically on the original. One of the biggest issues with the prior film is how formulaic it is, and the fact that the action was pretty bland. The sequel gains a lot from having the characters relationships already established. We don’t have to go through an hour of setting up a character dynamic we get to go right into the plot line.
The plot is simple. The two buddy cops go to Miami in order to talk to an informant, and end up enthralled in a big city case. There are a few twist and turns in the story but it isn’t anything complex. The biggest additions the story brings are: AJ played by Ken Jeong, and Maya played by Olivia Munn. Jeong’s character has a similar dynamic and story function like that of Joe Pesci’s character from Lethal Weapon 3, which means just adding a new character to bounce jokes off of. Jeong is so oftentimes dialed up to eleven in his performances so it was refreshing to see a relatively restrained performance. The character of AJ is unrecognizable from Jeong’s roles in Community, and The Hangover Trilogy. Olivia Munn is another excellent addition to the cast as the tough as nails love interest to Ice Cube. After being criminally underused in X-Men Apocalypse, it was nice to see Munn given a chance to show off some of her action and comedic chops.
The other strength of the film is very competent action. So often in modern movies the action is done in a very shakey chaotic style, due to wanting to get the feel of being within the fight, and to cover up poor fight choreography. Ride Along 2 doesn’t blow you away in terms of action, but you are never left wondering which character just punched which other character. Everything from the car chases, to the shootouts are very clear and concise. They even take some interesting elements with the action as they do animate a large portion of a particular car chase in an animation style meant to mimic that of a GTAesque video game. This time around they effectively add comedy to many of the action sequences that enhance the plot, and the laughs. The foot chase between Jeong and Hart in particular is a fantastic bit of comedy.
Overall Ride Along 2 is perfectly suitable entertainment. The comedy is tight, the characters are fun and the plot takes you on an enjoyable ride. In the realm of the modern buddy cop genre this movie sits firmly in the middle. It’s not as good as the 21 Jump Street films, but it’s miles ahead of trash like Copout. If you’re looking for a good time I’d recommend you check out Ride Along 2 on HBO (which debuted on October 8th), and if Ride Along 3 does happen I’ll happily give it a chance.