Some would consider Bad Boys: Ride or Die the title of the film, but as far as I am concerned, it is an MCQ. On the question of choosing either riding or dying, the pick is obvious: die.

As in: let the franchise die already, and leave us with memories of its mediocrity — not shudders that recall just how bad the series ultimately became.

Back in 1995, Bad Boys — and director Michael Bay, an ad-film maverick — broke through Hollywood with a slick shooting and editing style for action movies. The film helped Will Smith in his transition from television to the big screen, cemented his and Michael Bay’s status in the big league, and screwed up producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s approach to shooting and editing films altogether (the four-second cuts, excessive camera angles and bloated budgets became his de facto visual approach when making action films).

Still Bad Boys had wild, fun energy, despite its surface-level story and a screenplay that was reliant on sequences that took the story from one cliched action set-piece to another. It was disposable entertainment at its best, at a time when disposable entertainment counted for something.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die, the fourth film in the series, is the lowest iteration of Bad Boys till date. It’s time to let this franchise die

Well ladies and gentlemen, we have come a long way from the ’90s — both literally and figuratively speaking. We’ve surpassed the age of diminishing returns; today, films have taken the word disposable to heart and upped its ante.

Ride or Die, the fourth film in the series, is the lowest iteration of Bad Boys till date — not that the series was getting any more intelligent at any point since the first film.

Screenwriters Chris Bremner and Will Beal, and part three’s returning director-duo Adil and Bilall (famous for having their partially completed Batgirl film shelved by Warner Bros, as a casualty of corporate war), fail on story, intelligence (the meagre kind one expects from even bargain basement productions) and pizazz.

In the one-line plot, Miami detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) attempt to clear the name of their deceased Captain (Joe Pantoliano) when he is falsely accused of conspiracy.

During the film, several characters from Marcus’ family wiggle into the forced subplots that link to an even more absurdist idea. Early in the film, having just cheated death, Marcus thinks he is unkillable which, of course, leads to amateurishly thought-up cues for comedy.

The comedy is definitely a killer — that is, it kills any notion of laughs one steps into the cinema with.

Lawrence is a bad actor, and Will Smith — a capable actor, though not here — is not that far behind. Other actors, such as Ian Grufford, who plays a supposedly good-guy mayoral candidate, is royally wasted (one knows from his entry that he is anything but good).

Ride or Die is a film made out of desperation, I think. The actors are getting old, but since the world is immovably stuck in nostalgia-mode for anything from the ’80s, ’90s or sequels, the studios cannot let a potential money maker go to waste … no matter how wasteful the experience turns out to be for the viewer.

At this time, after this product, it is best to shut the ignition of the ride, and let the film series die.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is rated R and released worldwide. The film releases in cinemas Pakistan-wide on June 17

Published in Dawn, ICON, June 16th, 2024

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