Just how did an “action-comedy” short on “action” and “comedy” become the U.S. number one smash hit? Ryan Pollard unearths the horrors of this terrible film…
An action-comedy that is short on both action and comedy, Ride Along is nothing more than complete turgid dirge that recycles all the usual mismatched cop-couple cliches from films like 48 Hours to Cop Out with dreary, mind-numbing results. Ice Cube stars as a rock-hard detective that is willing to bend the rules and break heads in his pursuit of justice; Kevin Hart co-stars as the wannabe new recruit who’s hot to become both a cop and Cube’s new brother-in-law. Hilarious already! Cube then agrees to take Hart on a “ride-along”, and together, they spend the whole time just running around swapping wisecracks, bickering constantly, and getting involved in innocuous action set-pieces full of ear-splitting gunfire and noisy bangs. The reason for having those bangs turned up loud is merely to cover the sound of no one laughing at the incredibly flat jokes.
For years, people have argued and defended that with every kind of film, whichever genre it’s in, you always have to judge it on its on terms and judge whether the film achieves what it has set out to do. Whilst this is highly agreeable, there is a difference between a good action movie and a bad action movie, a good buddy-cop movie and a bad buddy-cop movie. In the case of the recent Liam Neeson action flick, Non-Stop, the problem with that film was that it was just a meat-headed airplane thriller that was perfectly fine, but it was nothing like as good as the best of those films like Red Eye and Flightplan.
In the case of this, you have the exact same generic “chalk-and-cheese” trope of these two people stuck together, and those riffs have been done before in action comedies films like Hot Fuzz and The Heat, and done much better and much more entertaining than its done here. We know how these riffs work now, and it’s perfectly possible to watch them and be entertained by them, and yet it is perfectly possible to watch them and think that’s neither action-packed nor funny, and the big problem with Ride Along is that it’s an action comedy that fails to achieve being either of the two things. Towards the end of the film, Laurence Fishburne turns up to show everyone how to shoot people in the chest properly, and he literally looks like the dictionary definition of a man turning up, picking up the cheque and laughing his way to the bank on screen.
Director Tim Story is someone whose not without some merits as he made Taxi an unexpected hit, but here, he literally plods through on autopilot, displaying little of the flair that made Taxi great, and making something that makes his two Fantastic Four movies look more substantial by comparison. Ride Along suffers deeply from insufficient laughter, insufficient action, insufficient engagement with the audience, and is absolutely not great in many, many ways. Unfortunately, it apparently became the US no. 1 smash hit, and because of that, there is going to be a Ride Along 2. Just shoot me now.