Thursday, January 14, 2016

Audience Is Taken For A 'Ride Along 2'

By Darlene Donloe

Ride Along 2, in theaters Friday, Jan. 15, is cinematic proof that not every movie should have a sequel.

Unlike Ride Along, the successful 2014 original film starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, the latest installment of the franchise falls flat – mostly because of a convoluted, tortuous story that makes the film drag.  Couple that with some plotline holes and suspect acting – and it makes for a long 102 minutes.

This buddy cop movie, opening Martin Luther King Jr. weekend like it’s predecessor, has rookie cop Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) venturing off to Miami to work on a case with his future brother-in-law, Detective James Payton, played straight by Ice Cube. Barber is making the trip even though he is set to marry Payton’s sister in a week.

Payton takes Barber with him to Miami, hoping, once again, that he will fall on his face and realize he was not meant to be a cop.  Really? It didn’t work in the first movie – why does he think it will happen this time? 

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube star in Ride Along 2

The case involves a computer hacker played by Ken Jeong, and a drug ring helmed by an unscrupulous businessman and crime lord named Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt).

It all becomes to big for the brothers-in-law to handle, so a sexy Miami-based female homicide detective named Maya, played unconvincingly by Olivia Munn, partners with Payton and Barber to crack the case.

Part of the problem with the movie is the improbability of several scenarios. One of them is the notion that a police chief would allow a rookie cop, barely a month on the job, to accompany a seasoned detective on a dangerous drug case in another state.  Another is that a drug lord would be so inept as to allow someone like Barber to bring him down.  Ok, for the sake of this review, forget about El Chapo (Joaquin Guzman) who allowed a Hollywood actor to essentially bring him down.

The film suffers from originality. Several of the scenes are rehashed from films like Ocean’s Eleven, Bad Boys, Beverly Hills Cop and every other buddy cop movie. Come on!!!

How is it that all female detectives in movies are gorgeous and badass? In this case Munn is sorely miscast.  Compared to Hart’s frenetic display, Jeong’s performance as A.J., a computer nerd is actually toned down. Bratt’s performance is subdued and controlled.  Sherri Shepherd brings some comic relief as a wedding coordinator.

There is no mistaking that Cube and Hart have chemistry. They work well together. Cube’s straight man to Hart’s over-the-top, high-energy comic schtick, could work if only they had a worthy and funny script.

While there are a couple of laughs, the reality is that director Tim Story’s Ride Along 2 suffers across the board.  It just never revs up!

(l-r) Ice Cube, Olivia Munn and Kevin Hart in Ride Along 2

Ride Along 2, directed by Tim Story, stars Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Olivia Munn, Tika Sumpter, Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt, Sherri Shepherd, Tyrese Gibson, Glen Powell, Bruce McGill and Yolanda Adams.

Ride Along 2 - Running time: 102 minutes. Rated PG-13 (profanity, violence, sexual content, drug material).

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Ride Along 2 gets an N (needs work).

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