After striking box office gold to the tune of $135 million in 2014, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are back as badass cop James Payton and his wannabe brother-in-law Ben Barber to do it all over again. And they’re really doing it all over again.
Ride Along 2, which moves the action from Atlanta to Miami, plays more like a remake than a sequel. It worked the first time, right? Ben is still desperate to prove himself (this time as a detective) to both his future bride (Tika Sumpter) and James, who concocts an intense on-the-job test to scare him off. Eventually, Ben displays his unexpected worth, and together he and James take down an otherwise untouchable crime boss, played this time by Benjamin Bratt. The films are so note-for-note similar that it’s easy to visualize a split-screen YouTube comparison video, if you can imagine such a horror.
Like last time, Hart’s manic energy is just enough to keep the film afloat as it plods from chase scene to stakeout to chase scene while Ice Cube scowls. The most noticeable difference between the two movies—besides a slightly higher laugh count, thanks to Hart as well as Ken Jeong as a criminal hacker—is that Ride Along 2 has the secondary mission of inventing reasons to ogle Olivia Munn, costarring as the Miami detective who comes to crime scenes straight from the gym, sweaty and still wearing her sports bra.
Action comedies must seem like no-brainers for quadrant-minded studios. Audiences like laughs and explosions, so why not have both? In practice, though, hybrid movies typically end up as comedies where the star shoots a gun from time to time. Or it’s the other way around, and the action works but the jokes aren’t quite funny-funny—the obvious exceptions being the 21 Jump Street movies, which makes you think: Shouldn’t Ice Cube know better? C