Monday, December 29, 2014

Ride Along (2014) Review:

The genre of buddy cop films has not seemed to wear down. There's just something about two bickering officers of the law that get people laughing. This is not to say it works all the time because their have been various flunks that people stay away from. However, this doesn't stop people from going if what's put on screen either puts a different spin on the original concept or changes it up entirely. As for this rendition, the overall story suffers from the usual cop cliches but also manages to surpass them by adding in new things. Also, the biggest difference is that audiences got to see tough rapper Ice Cube pair up with comedy hit Kevin Hart living off the success of his latest comedic roles from two years prior.

Ice Cube & Kevin Hart
Written by Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi (Clash of the Titans (2010) & R.I.P.D. (2013)), Jason Mantzoukas and Greg Coolidge, the story follows Ben (Kevin Hart), a man who wants to step up his game and propose to his girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). In order to do that though, Ben wants to get his thumbs up from Angela's brother James (Ice Cube), a no games cop. So to get James' approval, Ben joins the police academy. Nonetheless, this doesn't win over James very easily but accepts him under one rule - shadow him for one day and he measures up, James will give Ben a go. As far as plots go, it's a mix of ideas. Audiences all know the protective brother character and they are also familiar with the rookie going around with the seasoned cop. Have they ever been put together into one script? Maybe,...but as of recent memory it does not ring any bells. Yet outside of this, no other parts of the writing are that far out of the box. The script is filled with a number of cop genre cliches that viewers would be able to at least guess what might happen. Most of it is fairly predictable in that particular vein of story telling.

Viewers should get fun out of watching Ice Cube and Kevin Hart exchange lines. The contrasts are not only physically noticeable but also through the attitudes each one has. Ice Cube is gruff and self contained, while Kevin Hart is light and attention grabbing. It's even funnier when Hart attempts to be tough but can't manage even getting past the simplest of tasks. I feel him, when you try and nothing seems to work, all because of how tall he is. The supporting cast also helps too. With appearances from John Leguizamo, Bryan Callen, Bruce McGill, Gary Owen and even Laurence Fishburne, the story doesn't feel empty with a bunch of no name actors with any credibility. Laurence Fishburne looks like he enjoyed himself too considering how much older he is now and the limitations that come with it.

The action and special effects looked good. There are shootouts but it's not boring either. One of the reoccurring topics argued about between Hart and Cube's characters was about playing video games and whether they help in real life. Although I can't say for sure if what is presented could actually be legitimate or not, it still is funny to see. To watch Kevin Hart run around thinking the situation he's in is like a Call of Duty multi-player, is comical. Meanwhile, Ice Cube's reaction face is priceless. The special effects that go with these sequences nicely play off the timing for comedy and action. Whether it is Kevin Hart being blown away or Ice Cube packing some firepower, it is displayed professionally for viewing.

Tika Sumpter
Regrettably, there are more issues to come. One the areas that brings up certain questions are continuity errors. There are moments that get pretty tense and it entails people in trouble. Then out of nowhere, the certain individual is abruptly out of harms way without any explanation. How did that happen? On top of that is fairly uninteresting cinematography provided by Larry Blanford. Blanford was also the DP for Think Like a Man (2012), another Kevin Hart film but looked better. Instead, Blanford acquires a lot indoor shots. If this is cop film, why are there not as many outdoor arrests or scenes? The phrase "cleaning the streets" means being on the outside. As for music like many other Tim Story directed films, Christopher Lennertz composed the score. Unfortunately, Lennertz score is only effective in the comedy because that's his forte. Lennertz does not compose for action films and that's apparent because the action cues are not recognizable. However, even with these issues, the film is still a fun time to watch play out.

It's a concept that combines two familiar ideas and makes a somewhat new idea but it also contains a lot of elements that makes this cop film almost average. Thankfully, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart have enough chemistry through their comedy and the action scenes along with the supporting cast to make this a fun little comedy.

Points Earned --> 6:10

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