What is it with Hollywood and its love of dockyards? Have you ever stopped to think about how many action films have their climaxes down at the docks, with a shootout or car chase taking place among stacks of shipping containers? yeah, it would probably number in the hundreds – and to that list you can safely add Ride Along 2, a ho-hum sequel to a pretty ho-hum buddy-cop comedy.
The first film saw Hart's man-boy character, video-game-loving security guard Ben Barber, spending 24 hours on a ride-along with his girlfriend’s brother, gung-ho Atlanta detective James Payton (Cube), to prove himself worthy of her hand in marriage. It took all the familiar buddy-cop tropes, threw in Hart's very annoying schtick and ran with it. And in Ride Along 2, we get more of the same. Set roughly a year after the first film, Barber is now a rookie uniformed officer and about to marry girlfriend Angela (Sumpter). Against his better judgement, James lets Ben tag along with him on a trip to Miami, to interview a contact about an encrypted thumb drive that he needs access to. Before long, they find themselves working with Miami detective Maya Cruz (Munn) to take down drug kingpin Antonio Pope (Bratt).
If you are familiar with the tropes of buddy-cop/action films – such as the Lethal Weapon series, or Bad Boys, or Tango & Cash, or Rush Hour, or Red Heat, or even The Heat – then you know what to expect here. Ride Along didn't do anything to break the mould, and its sequel stick to the tried and proven formula. On the plus side, the film looks great, particularly when the boys hit the sunshine of Miami –where we get lots and lots and lots of shots of gorgeous bikini-clad girls (the extras budget for this film must have been massive). It's also got a thrilling car chase, and some pretty good car stunts and smashes, too (the car budget must also have been pretty high). As action films go, Ride Along 2 is more than decent. Where it falls down is in the comedy – there just aren't that many laughs to be had. Some people do find Hart's schtick amusing, but for most of us he's simply annoying (although he was terrific in last year's The Wedding Ringer. It's clear to see how Cube's straighterr-than-straight, hard-nosed detective wants as little to do with him as possible, but hard to understand how a stunningly beautiful woman like Sumpter could fall for such a bloke.
The real surprise is Jeong as the drug lord's computer hacker, AJ. A little of Jeong usually goes a long way - he can be just as annoying as Hart – but here is somewhat subdued and a little underused. Also underused is the always terrific Munn, playing a detective with a personality close to Cube's – there's even the hint of a budding romance between the two. And Bratt, who will be familiar to many from his time on TV's Law & Order, makes a wonderful, very believable villain. As buddy cop films go, RA2 is not the worst, it just lacks the kind of chemistry (and fun) that we saw between Riggs and Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon films (and it's rather obvious they are using Jeong and Munn in an attempt to replicate the Joe Pesci and Rene Russo roles in Lethal Weapon 3). And that's the real rub – Ride Along 2 is just more of the same, we've absolutely seen it all before. There is nothing fresh or unique – especially the climax in the dockyards.