Ride Along 2 – Review (**)

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2014’s sub-Lethal Weapon buddy cop comedy just about got away with it thanks to the strong chemistry of leads Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, but the law of diminishing returns is very much in effect for this lazy retread, failing to subvert the sequelitis inherent in its existence, nor bringing much new or worthwhile to the table.

As officer Ben Barber’s (Hart) wedding day approaches, he convinces detective James Payton (Cube) to once again take him along on a mission, this time to bring down slick contraband kingpin Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt). Unbeknownst to Ben, however, James is only allowing Ben to come along in the hope of proving that he’s not made of detective material.

Ride Along 2 is, as expected, a highly perfunctory sequel where the two unlikely partners are again teamed up through contrived circumstances to take on a bland, generic bad guy, while comic relief family drama is thrown in for “good” measure. To the film’s mild credit, the occasional gag lands because of Hart and Cube’s inherent charms, and there are some decent practical stunts, though at one point this is totally demolished by a surreal aside in which Hart’s character envisions a car chase with the visuals of a low-rent Grand Theft Auto-esque video game he’s obsessed with. It doesn’t really work at all, sadly.

Furthermore, it bets on the easy gag every time, while the wedding drama is merely loathsome padding. Fine actors like Bratt and Bruce McGill are unsurprisingly wasted, while Ken Jeong just about gets to make a dent as an obnoxious computer hacker, though Olivia Munn’s detective, Maya Cruz, barely touches the sides, touting a much smaller role than the marketing suggested, and rarely graduating beyond bland eye candy. Given Munn’s work in comedy, why the hell would you make her the straight guy?

It’s as low-effort as the aforementioned, cheesy GTA knock-off, hurling in tired, forced pop-culture references, fashioning a carefree plot and character banter that’s totally hit-and-miss. And of course, if you’re hoping for women to be anything more than window dressing, you’re evidently watching the wrong movie.

It aims low and will do just fine for the target audience, but given the talents involved, shouldn’t it have been so much better?

**

Ride Along 2 is in cinemas now

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