Ride Along

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

James Payton is a detective, on an undercover operation where fake passports are being smuggled into Atlanta by a man named “Omar”. After a shootout with the smugglers, and a car chase that leaves one injured, the lieutenant leading the case ask James to drop the case on “Omar”, something James doesn’t.

Ben Barber, a fast-talking, jumpy high school security guard, applies for the Atlanta City Police Academy. So when he gets in, he decides to ask James for his blessings to marry his sister Angela. James then says Ben has to be worthy of Angela, making him go on a “ride along” to prove it.

After picking up Ben and taking him to the police station, James tells dispatch to give him all the 1-26’s that are called into the station. James makes Ben take care of all the 1-26’s. James then arrives at the park to question an informant Runflat, about a connection of Serbia and “Omar”. He finds out that a shipment will come in later that day. After leaving the park, James takes Ben to the local shooting range where he finds out that Zastava M92’s have been given to the store, Ben realizes he got a clue for James. When a 1-26 calls in, Ben and James are called to a market where a drunk man called Crazy Cody is being disorderly. Ben tried to subdue him but is unable to, so James arrests him.

Ben asks to be taken home before he receives a call from Angela. He tells her about his stressful day, before Angela says that James plays poker with a guy named Crazy Cody, along with telling him that 1-26’s are a code for annoying situations for new-comers. He then goes into the police station and sees Cody laughing with James and his partners Santiago and Miggs.

Upset at James, Ben refuses to go home and instead takes a 1-26 call to respond to a disturbance at a strip club, where two men get into a mexican standoff with James and Ben, which Ben thinks it’s another joke call, so fools around. James subdues the men, and the two are then tipped off about a gun deal involving Omar’s men. Ben then confronts James about the 1-26’s. James receives a call from Santiago in the car, when he finds out that Runflat had turned himself in, Ben says how Runflat’s brother in the park said that Runflat had just got out of prison. James then contradicts, saying that Runflat hadn’t been in prison for over two years, leading to another clue.

The men go to talk Runflat’s other brother, J, trying to find out the location of the gun deal, Ben accidentally shoots J, and finds out that the deal would take place at an old abandoned warehouse at 9 PM.

James decides to infiltrate the warehouse with Santiago and Miggs, after leaving Ben behind in the car. Where James is betrayed by Santiago and Miggs, who turn out to be on Omar’s payroll. James is then tied up, just when Ben sees. As the deal begins, Ben enters pretending to be Omar (since no one has ever actually seen the real Omar). Ben then wreaks havoc at the deal, and right as Ben is about to leave with James, the real Omar appears. A shootout ensues, and many of Omar’s men are killed. James and Ben take the money meant for the deal and escape right before the warehouse blows up because of Ben’s Grenade. Unbeknownst to them, Santiago, Miggs and Omar all escape.

Santiago and Miggs arrive at Angela’s apartment and tie her up. As she was playing one of Ben’s video games, Ben’s fellow players hear the confrontation ensuing between Angela, Miggs and Santiago from Ben’s headset. At the hospital, Ben receives a call from the fellow player, and tells James that there’s something going on at the apartment. After seeing some dirty cops arrive at the hospital, James takes Ben and leaves to go to the apartment, along with Omar’s money. James then injures Miggs, before getting into a fight with Santiago. As Santiago is about to shoot James, Angela knocks him out with a frying pan, before Omar takes the bag of money and Angela, and leaves the apartment.

James follows Omar and Angela and confronts them. Right as Omar is about to shoot James, Ben slides over a car and kicks him, and James shoots Omar twice, injuring him. Police arrested Omar, Miggs and Santiago. James gives Ben his blessing.

In a mid-credits scene Ben and Angela are engaged, and Ben is weeks away from graduating from the police academy. At a barbecue at James’ house Ben blows up the barbecue and is sent flying back.

REVIEW:

People love Kevin Hart, I tell you. Why else do you explain how he has had at least 3 or 4 films that were released around the same time this year, with cameos and other appearances that I’m sure can also be added on to that number throughout the year. Arguably the “best” of these that was released this year was Ride Along.

What is this about?

When his future brother-in-law, Ben, enters the police academy, veteran Atlanta cop James takes him on a ride-along but soon comes to regret it. Ben’s motormouth isn’t just annoying — it could land them both in a world of trouble.

What did I like?

Cube. You may not be able to tell it now, because all he does these days is make family movies, but Ice Cube was once the “hard” gangsta type who you didn’t want to run into because he was so full of rage. That Cube makes a semi-return with this role and it works better than anyone could have hoped. Perhaps Cube needs to return to his proverbial roots, as it were. Or he can just terrorize Kevin Hart the way Denzel Washington is paired with white actors (Ryan Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg, Ethan Hawke, etc.)

Chemistry. Speaking of Cube’s relationship with Hart, when I initially saw the trailers for this film, I figured they were just a couple of name pulled out of a hat and put together in a random buddy cop film. As it turns out, these two have great chemistry together. The contrast of the gruff, streetwise, serious character Cube is playing with the manic Hart makes for some great moments that can’t be described. You just have to watch and see how natural these guys are together.

Action. Truth be told, this film has a few laugh out loud moments, but the action scenes are when it really shines. Take for instance the opening credits. The kind of action you would see in a 70s crime drama (film or television). The last half of the film follows suit and makes you wonder if this director is better suited making a straight out action film than an action comedy. Gunplay, betrayal, shaking down informants, these are the things an action film of this nature need to be successful, and all of those elements have been checked off.

What didn’t I like?

That girl. How in the bloody blue hell are we supposed to believe that Kevin Hart, who is a school cop that comes home and plays video games all night, managed to get a girl that hot and devoted to him?!? For that matter, realizing that the focus of this film is the relationship between Cube and Hart, why is it that she is forgotten about, save for a quick cut away scene here and there to her calling Hart. I think that was done just so we know she’s still in the film. Then, of course, there’s the kidnapping that happens near the end, which we all knew was coming. Look. Tika Sumpter is one of the most beautiful women I’ve seen in a modern film in quite some time and judging from this small sample, she has the talent to go with the looks, but I think they could have done more with her. Perhaps in the sequel?

Hart murmur. Kevin Hart is one of those guys that is great is short bursts. 100 minutes of him is either too much or just right, I’m still debating which one it is. Hart is full of energy, which is great, but at times he comes off at the newest version of Chris Rock, Chris Tucker, Pauly Shore, or some other annoying comic. You could even say he was like a Chihuahua, since he’s so short. Here’s the thing, though, I don’t think Hart isn’t funny, but rather that after a while, he started trying too hard and brought the film down with him. Thank goodness for the story shifting into action, or this would have been a complete crash and burn.

Short jokes. Look, not every guy is a 6′ 4″ specimen. Some of us are a bit, shall we say vertically challenged. Now, I’m not as short as Kevin Hart, but I feel his pain for the short jokes. A few of them here or there would have been fine, but it seems as if this film went out of its way to make said jokes. Literally stopping the proceedings to bring attention to how short he is. Why? What purpose does this serve? We can see the guy is short, why keep beating us over the head with the fact?

For all the problems Ride Along has, it actually turned out to be one of the better buddy cop films that have been released in the last few years. I’m not sure that is saying much, though. The appearance of Laurence Fishburne going completely out of character and playing someone who is not as refined as other characters he has played (excluding Cowboy Curtis) was a nice addition to the cast, as did having a superior officer shouting at Ice Cube, but were those enough to save this film? Not really. What ultimately drags this film down is that it isn’t as funny as it sets out to be, depending too much on Hart’s comedy, and not allowing the supporting cast to shine. This is why the action near the end can’t come soon enough, and even then, it still is leaning on Hart. Hart is a good comic, but I don’t think he can carry a picture like this. Do I recommend this film? Eh, it can be something to watch and have a good time with your friends at a party or something, but nothing to go out of your way to make sure you see before anyone else.

3 out of 5 stars

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2 Responses to “Ride Along”

  1. […] is a film that probably could be turned into two or three more films, if they do it right. Unlike Ride Along, where the strength of the film lies in the names of the actors and not the actual story, this one […]

  2. […] this riotous sequel to Ride Along, hardboiled cop James Payton is again riding with the panic-prone Ben Barber as the pair attempts […]

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