Ice Cube and Kevin Hart made for a fun and likable pair in 2014’s buddy-cop action comedy “Ride Along”. In just two short years, Hart’s star-power has significantly risen to (sadly) the point of overkill. He dominates the screen in “Ride Along 2” and his brand of over-the-top, wacky humor mixed with an occasionally smart wisecrack isn’t able to drive this unoriginal and rarely entertaining sequel very far.
Returning director Tim Story takes James (Cube) and Ben (Hart) from Atlanta to sunny Miami – mainly so shots of fancy cars, bikini-clad women and loud pop music can accompany practically every scene. Set one week before Ben will finally get married to James’ sister Angela (the once again underused Tika Sumpter), the two soon-to-be “Brothers-in-Law” get caught-up in an even more outrageous and far-fetched case than last time, involving – you guessed it – and illegal drugs operation.
All of the new cast members aren’t able to stand-out amidst such a basic and quite mediocre story. Olivia Munn (“The Newsroom”) plays a Miami P.D.’s top detective. Benjamin Bratt is the obligatory wealthy businessman who’s also, secretly, a crime boss. Ken Jeong is his double-crossing computer hacker. And Sherri Shepherd plays Ben and Angela’s argumentative wedding planner. All seem to be going through the motions.
A couple of car-chase scenes provide the most fun and energy in “Ride Along 2” – but they only add-up to about one-tenth of the film’s running time. Cube’s chemistry with Hart isn’t nearly as genuine as the first go-around, and I only chuckled, maybe, a half-dozen times.
Sequels should try to elevate and expand on what worked in the original – at least the good ones. Or, as in the case of “22 Jump Street”, the same formula can be used, but in an even more creative and smart way. “Ride Along 2” has the same ingredients as the first but doesn’t add anything new, inventive, or remotely interesting in the content department, resulting in exactly what this film is: a January money-grab.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Ride Along 2” gets a D+.
Running Time: 102 min.