[Screen It]


(2016) (Ice Cube, Kevin Hart) (PG-13)

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Action/Comedy: Two Atlanta cops have less than a week to nab a Miami drug dealer so that the one officer can return to Georgia and marry his partner's sister.
No-nonsense Atlanta Police Detective James Payton (ICE CUBE) is back and hot on the trail of another elusive crime lord named Antonio Pope (BENJAMIN BRATT). Once again, he is teamed with motor-mouthed rookie cop Ben Barber (KEVIN HART), who is only a week away from marrying James' sister, Angela (TIKA SUMPTER). James still doesn't believe Ben has what it takes to make it as a police officer, so he gets permission from Lieutenant Brooks (BRUCE McGILL) to take Ben on assignment to Miami and mix it up with Pope and his murderous gang of henchmen.

But when the two get to Florida, they are surprised to learn that Pope presents himself as a respected, legitimate businessman and philanthropist. So, the two join forces with a tough homicide detective, Maya (OLIVIA MUNN), and a cyber criminal named AJ (KEN JEONG), who's on the run after stealing money from Pope. Together, they seek to bring down Antonio's drug empire.

Meanwhile, back in Georgia, Angela is planning the nuptials of her dreams, but she is being manipulated by a rigid, controlling wedding planner, Cori (SHERRI SHEPHERD). And the longer the week drags on, the more worried she becomes, fearing that Ben will not make it back in time to get hitched.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
The sequel "Ride Along 2" isn't so much a bad movie as it is a lazy one. Extremely lazy, in fact. How lazy? At least three times during the course of the film, Kevin Hart's motor-mouthed cop, Ben Barber, actually announces what is happening on screen ... as if the entire audience is comprised of complete imbeciles who can't see for themselves. For instance, when he and Ice Cube's Detective James Payton are engaging in one of their first mismatched, buddy cop back-and-forths, Hart yells out, "Banter! We're bantering!" Later, when a suspect turns tail and runs from him, Ben hollers, "Foot chase!" And then a bit later on when he, James, and Miami cop Maya are surveying the main bad guy's crooked cargo operations at the local dock, Hart declares, "We're on a stakeout!"

It was at that point, I couldn't help myself. I rarely get verbal during movies anymore, out of respect for the other people around me and my fellow critics in press row. But I had to call out, "I'm at a bad movie!"

They say that some of the best, most thought-provoking movies of our time hold a mirror up to the audience. Well, in this case, the mirror image is that of Ice Cube and anyone paying full price to see this flick. We share a common humanity ... and a perpetual frown. Mr. Cube, you see, is once again stuck in the role of the angry, disapproving, killjoy older cop who is always scowling at the goofy, silly antics of Hart's younger, more brash Ben. The former N.W.A. member-turned-actor just looks miserable here, forced to play 20 different variations of "Shut the hell up!" to Hart's hysterics.

It doesn't help that the two are plugged into a by-the-numbers crime plot that plays like a fifth-season "Miami Vice" episode. Ben and James travel from Atlanta to Miami to investigate and bring down a Florida drug dealer named Pope (Benjamin Bratt). Once there, they discover that Pope is seen by locals as a legitimate businessman and beloved philanthropist. Their only allies end up being an equally tough, by-the-book homicide detective named Maya (Olivia Munn) and Pope's former computer hacker AJ (Ken Jeong), who Pope now wants dead for stealing money from him.

You know a movie is in its death throes immediately when the unfunny Jeong shows up. Here, he basically plays the Joe Pesci part from "Lethal Weapon 2," but not nearly as funny or memorable. But at least he keeps his clothes on. As for Munn, she lets her halter tops and sports bras do the acting, and even then, it's not much of a performance. Dull, unimaginative shootouts and car chases ensue, broken up by the occasional scenes of Hart going so far off-script with his hyper-chipper improv rants that you fear the man will need oxygen sooner or later. He's really trying here, folks.

And, to be fair, there is one standout sequence. Ben is a videogame junkie, you'll recall from the first flick. So, when he gets the chance to get behind the wheel for real in a chase through Miami Beach, he imagines himself in his favorite first-person driver's game. So, the sequence ends up switching back and forth from live action to game animation. It's quite clever and goes to show that at least a few people worked on this project who weren't complete hacks.

As for the rest of this cash-grab? I rate it no better than a 3 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed January 12, 2016 / Posted January 15, 2016

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