Ben (Kevin Hart), a recently graduated police rookie, now aspires to be a detective like his soon-to-be brother-in-law, but James (Ice Cube) still doesn't think that he has what it takes for the job. He reluctantly takes Ben with him to follow up on a lead in Miami. Plans for a quick trip go awry when their unorthodox policing gets them into a compromising situation that threatens to derail a major case… and Ben's upcoming wedding day.
Stop the car, I want to get out! I was one of the few who thought the original Ride Along – while nothing particularly original or side-splittingly hilarious – was a pleasant enough journey. However, it becomes obvious early on in this sequel that the tank is already empty. 'Ride Along 2' isn't just disappointing...it's bad. Really bad. The movie looks great, but there's no real humor to be found here. No engaging story (if indeed, there's much of a story at all). And a cardboard-cut-out villain whose motives and purpose I couldn't begin to tell you about – primarily because the movie does such a poor job of explaining them.
As you've no doubt already been made aware by the promotional blitz for this movie, "The Brothers-In-Law" are back...although they're not brothers-in-law quite yet. Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) is still engaged to fellow cop James Payton's (Ice Cube) sister, but as this follow-up opens, the couple is still planning for their wedding. Ben is out of the Police Academy but still a probationary officer and – following an opening action sequence (with a special guest cameo of one of Universal's Fast & Furious stars) where Ben almost screws up the apprehension of a bad guy – James is still trying to figure out a way to get Ben kicked off the police force.
That opportunity comes when James needs to follow up on a lead that will take him to Miami to investigate shady businessman Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt). With his sister (and Ben's fiancé), Angela (Tika Sumpter), encouraging James to get Ben out of town so she can plan her wedding without him interfering all the time, James decides this might be a good chance to prove that Ben is unfit to wear the uniform.
I would love to see the shooting script for 'Ride Along 2' (written...or as the case is here, barely written, by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay) just to see how much is really on the page and how much they expected Kevin Hart to ad lib on screen. I get the impression that this movie was filled with a lot of "ideas" the creators had, but none of which were fleshed out before filming began. If that's the case, 'Ride Along 2' wouldn't be the first movie to rely on its star to 'fill in the blanks', but it's a dangerous gamble, and one that totally fails here, despite the talents of Kevin Hart.
What is also obvious from watching 'Ride Along 2' is that the writers borrowed a lot from other successful action-comedies – particularly the Lethal Weapon series. Ken Jeong co-stars here as a criminal hacker who joins James and Ben in their investigation of Pope (think Joe Pesci's Leo Getz), while Olivia Munn plays a tough Miami cop who is a potential love interest for James (think Rene Russo's Lorna Cole). Heck, this movie even ends with a shootout on the docks involving large cargo carriers and one of our heroes being riddled with bullets (see the conclusion of 'Lethal Weapon 2').
But I would more than happily accept 'Ride Along 2's unoriginality if the movie were actually any good. It's not. How you can have this much talent in a film and not manage to have one entertaining sequence is beyond me, but Director Tim Story manages to pull it off. With all that in mind, I'm not totally opposed to a 'Ride Along 3', if only to serve as an apology for this film – which should be avoided at all costs, even if you marginally enjoyed the first one.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Ride Along 2' drives onto home video from Universal in this Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack. The dual-layer DVD, 50GB Blu-ray, and insert containing a code for a iTunes or UltraViolet copy of the movie are housed inside and eco-LITE Vortex keepcase with a slipcover with artwork matching that of the keepcase sliding overtop. Both the DVD and the Blu-ray are front-loaded with trailers for Kevin Hart's stand-up concert movie 'What Now?', 'Kindergarten Cop 2', 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt', Triple 9, The Forest, The Boy, and Race, plus a promotional ad for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, where the filmmakers of 'Ride Along 2' convey what a great state Georgia is to film a movie in. The main menu is the standard Universal design, with a still image that matches that of the box cover and menu selections vertically down the left side of the screen.
The Blu-ray is region-free.
'Ride Along 2' was shot digitally on Red Epic Dragon cameras and is presented on Blu-ray in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. As it turns out, the A/V quality of this Blu-ray is about the best thing that can be said about the movie – starting with this nicely rendered transfer that really 'pops' with details and colors.
While I've criticized Director Tim Story about the, ahem...story...I certainly can't take any points off him for his directing style. He knows what looks appealing on camera, and makes use of both his Georgia and Florida locations to fill his film with eye candy. Black levels are deep here, textures are well-defined, and skin tones are consistent throughout. Even if one doesn't like the movie (and I certainly didn't), the shooting style and choices – as well as this near-perfect transfer – can certainly be appreciated.
In terms of any glitches or problems, there is a minor bit of aliasing and banding, but nothing so noticeable or problematic that it's going to distract from one's viewing (if, indeed, one notices it at all). Other problems like noise or compression problems are non-existent. It's too bad 'Ride Along 2' isn't a better movie, because it certainly wows in terms of visuals in this transfer.
The featured audio here is an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that, while not top-notch, certainly delivers in all the areas you would expect it to. From the soundtrack of the opening credits to the shootout that concludes the movie, the track is very active, making use of both the surrounds as well as LFE when called for. The track does its best to provide an immersive feeling to it, even though there's not a whole lot in terms of directionality. Everything is crisp and clear though – and the dialogue is properly mixed with the soundtrack and ambient noises, which is something I can't say about all Universal Blu-rays (which often amp up the action noises so they're much louder than the spoken word).
There are no noticeable glitches to be found here. So, while this track may not quite be reference-quality, I have no major complaint about it and viewers/listeners should be pleased with what they get.
In addition to the lossless English track, both Spanish and French tracks are available in 5.1 DTS Surround, as is an English 2.0 Descriptive Video Service track. Subtitles are offered in English SDH, Spanish and French.
'Ride Along 2' breaks the cardinal rule of any comedy sequel: it's simply not very funny. I was one of the few who semi-enjoyed the original, but this follow-up is a complete bust. It's well-shot and features some decent action pieces, but there isn't a laugh to be found, and the new villain is more of a caricature of an on-screen bad guy than anyone the audience can take seriously. Most viewers will be begging for the end credits to arrive so they can get out of the vehicle. Skip it.