Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Ken Jeong
Directed by: Tim Story (“Ride Along,” “Barbershop”)
Written by: Phil Hay (“Ride Along”) and Matt Manfredi (“Ride Along”)
Even though I saw the original “Ride Along” in January 2014 and wrote a review for it featured on this very site, I don’t remember a single thing about the plot except that Ice Cube’s James was a hardass detective and Kevin Hart’s annoying, in-over-his-head Ben was a wannabe cop that was also marrying James’ smoking hot sister Angela (Tika Sumpter). There was probably something about drug smugglers or terrorists or whatever―hold on, let me look this up.
Okay, I’m back. Turns out it was weapons smuggling. Anyway, my point is that the movie was generic to a fault, redeemed ever so slightly by the charisma of Cube and Hart as a mismatched comedic duo, even though the funniest thing related to the film ended up being a remote skit the pair did with Conan O’Brien on his talk show where they rode around L.A. in a Lyft car.
Two Januarys later, we’ve been delivered “Ride Along 2.” It’s a week or so out from Ben’s wedding to Angela, and now he’s a rookie patrolman for Atlanta PD assisting James and his badass partner Mayfield (an uncredited Tyrese Gibson) on an undercover bust regarding something or other―drugs, I think. When it goes sideways after Ben blows their cover, the only clue they have to go on in an encrypted flash drive created by super-hacker A.J. (Ken Jeong, dialed back to tolerable for the first time in a decade), based out of Miami. To track down the drug kingpin (Benjamin Bratt) behind the smuggling, a reluctant James takes Ben along with him to the 305 to find A.J., gaining the help of a gorgeous Miami PD homicide detective (Olivia Munn, somewhat vacant) along the way.
Perhaps I’ve softened just a bit in the last two years, or maybe director Tim Story has figured out how to use his cast somewhat better in this outing. Sure, the plot is just a microwaved take on “Beverly Hills Cop” and the action scenes are somewhat lifeless, but the pairing of Cube and Hart pays off more comedically this time, and Jeong finally plays a character that complements the rest of the cast instead of dominating it into oblivion. Yeah, Munn is kind of a dud, but she doesn’t drag the movie down in any way (unless you don’t like her cleavage, that is). Look, the movie is fine and you’ll laugh sort of hard in some spots. And again, the best part of the whole shebang is a remote segment with Conan O’Brien where the trio teaches a student driver how to drive in L.A. What else do you expect in January?