Four years ago fans of the mammoth Bad Boys franchise waited with baited breath to see whether Bad Boys For Life could work not only without Michael Bay in the director’s chair and whether or not there was still interest in the series some 21 years after the last film.

Despite the fact that Bad Boys For Life did better than expected, both at the box office and with fans and critics alike. Now those same fans again on the edge of their seat as they wait to see whether Bad Boys: Ride Or Die will be received the same way especially as Will Smith tries to prove that he can still be a leading man after his infamous Oscars night slap.

This time around Adil El Arbi (Rebel) and Billal Fallah (Bad Boys For Life) are again pulling the director’s strings while the lives of Mike Lowery (Will Smith – Men In Black) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence – Big Momma’s House) are picked just a short time after the events of Bad Boys For Life.

The film begins with the wedding between Mike and his counsellor, Christine (Melanie Liburd –  This Is Us), which ends in disaster after Marcus has a heart attack during the reception afterwards.

Ironically his health doesn’t slow him down though and instead gives him a new lease of life – one that is now full of philosophy and spirituality – which Mike despises.

Their petty differences are soon put on the back-burner though when their boss, Captain Rita Secada (Paola Nunez – Resident Evil), alerts them to the fact that their former boss, Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano – The Matrix), has been named in an investigation delving into corrupt cops that are working with the South American cartels.

Desperate to clear his name Mike and Marcus once again team up with other squad members, Kelly (Vanessa Hudgens – High School Musical) and Dorn (Alexander Ludwig – The Hunger Games), as their enquiries see them being hunted down by the insane McGrath (Eric Dane – Burlesque) while having to work with Mike’s jailed son, Armando (Jacob Scipio – The Outpost).

Cinematically Bad Boys: Ride For Life feels like a movie told in two parts. The first part of the film feels like both the directors and the screenwriters wanted to reach for the comedic laughs but in all honesty it felt like it didn’t work. Much too much was made about Marcus’s brush with death which felt like it was trying to mirror the emotion that worked so well when Mike was shot in the previous film. The difference there was with Mike the film was then able to centre on a man realising that he is not immortal whereas here the comedic touch to the plot didn’t work and the scenes felt laboured.

The film does come into its own though when it decides to focus a little less on trying to make the audience laugh and instead actually start to knuckle down in the crime and action genres. The crime story itself is fairly decent and the screenwriters have been creative with the way that they are able to bring Captain Howard onto the screen despite the fact he was killed in the previous film. My advice would be though don’t over-think the criminal case plot line though or you will find flaws and holes throughout it.

All of that is forgotten though once the film begins its intense action sequences. While the film doesn’t exactly breakthrough new ground the action sequences will be enjoyed by lovers of the genre. There are two amazing sequences – one on a helicopter and one at a theme park – both are creative and will keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The directors also team up brilliantly well with cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert (Revenge) to deliver a very memorable plane crash that is one of the highlights of the film.

When it comes to the performances Martin Lawrence steal the show when it comes to the comedy while Will Smith sends a strong reminder to Hollywood that despite what has happened in his private life he is still a worthy action hero that knows what his fans want and like.

When it comes to the secondary cast Jacob Scipio is a real standout while Eric Dane also does a great job playing the menacing villain. Sadly though the rest of the cast don’t really get a chance to shine though because there have been way too many characters written into the screenplay.

If you like a decent action film you will enjoy Bad Boys: Ride Or Die – just don’t expect it to be a genre changer. The film does show that Will Smith is still a great action star and overcomes a slow start to deliver some great action sequences that look on the big screen.

3/5 Stars