'Bad Boys: Ride or Die' review: Will Smith's post-slap penance 2
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in 'Bad Boys: Ride or Die.'  Columbia Pictures

'Bad Boys: Ride or Die' review: Will Smith's post-slap penance

Is the public ready to forgive Will Smith, or not?
Fred Hawson | Jun 05 2024

Detective Lt. Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) just got married to a new wife, Christine (Melanie Liburd). Detective Lt. Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) had just survived a heart attack. AMMO leader Rita (Paola Nunez) was now romantically involved with lawyer/mayoralty candidate Lockwood (Iain Gruffudd). Her team still included computer techie Dorn (Alexander Ludwig) and the weapons pro Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens).

Captain Conrad Howard (Joe Pantoliano) had been murdered, and was now being framed to be involved with a foreign drug cartel. Key witness, convicted murderer and Lowrey's son Armando (Jacob Scipio), had just survived an assassination attempt himself right inside prison, and had to be transferred by air. In their effort to clear their former boss Howard's name, Lowrey and Burnett (Martin Lawrence) joined the team to secure him.

The Oscar ceremony on March 27, 2022 was a turning point in Will Smith's career. Even if he won the Best Actor Oscar for "King Richard," that show will always be remembered for an unfortunate incident where an uncharacteristically angry Smith stormed out of his seat in the audience and slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage. His red-hot career ground to a halt since then. His first movie released post-slap, "Emancipation" (2022), made no impact.  

As Lowery, Will Smith never lost his charisma as an lead actor, nor his swagger and skills as an action star. His chemistry with Martin Lawrence here was impeccably dynamic and their sarcastic banter was always fun to watch. A scene which drew significant audience reaction actually involved slaps to the face. Done as a light comic moment, I interpret this scene as Smith's act of penance to humbly atone for his unfortunate lapse of judgment.    

There were several moments of frenetic colorful action here, with physics-defying stunts (the ones on the cargo plane, Burnett's house and the gator amusement park were awesome), and cameos of guest stars (like DJ Khaled as a gangster, Tiffany Haddish as a madame, and a couple more surprises).

Good and fun as this one was, the box-office of this fourth "Bad Boys" sequel remains uncertain. Is the public ready to forgive Will Smith, or not? 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."