Plot: Ben (Kevin Hart) has dreams of being a police officer, but for now, he protects the halls of a high school as a security guard. He isn’t given much respect there, but he likes the sense of authority and when he isn’t at work, he is spending time with Angela (Tika Sumpter), his beloved girlfriend. Or he’s playing video games with his friends, wishing he was the bad ass, gun wielding soldiers he sees in the games. Angela’s brother James (Ice Cube) happens to be a cop himself, but he thinks Ben should drop the dream and move on, perhaps even find a new girlfriend. When Ben is finally accepted into the police academy, James offers to take him on a ride along, to see how the job works and in the process, make sure Ben loses his desire to get a badge. But what he expects to be a simple scare tactic takes some unexpected turns, with James and Ben pulled into a wild night with local crime boss Omar (Laurence Fishburne).
Entertainment Value: This kind of movie was once a staple of cinema, but over time, the buddy cop movie has fallen out of favor and now, Ride Along hopes to revive the genre and prove there’s still some life left here. As it turns out, Ride Along isn’t a terrible movie, but it is a mediocre one and does little to breathe new life into the buddy cop formula, so we have seen this all before. I expected some genre conventions to be present, but this is one cliche after another, with no fresh twists or even attempts to bring creative touches to the mix. The narrative is one we have seen countless times, which is fine, but with no fresh traits involved, Ride Along needed to nail the formula and hit all the right notes for this kind of flick. Instead, the movie focuses on forgettable action scenes and weak, broad humor that rarely lands. So it does all the things we’ve seen time and again, it just doesn’t do them well. Again, I’ve seen much worse movies, even within the buddy cop realm, but this is just not fun or memorable in the least. If you’re a dedicated fan of Ice Cube or Kevin Hart, you might find a few more laughs out of this one, but I found it to be wholly unremarkable.
As this is a buddy comedy, you need two leads with good chemistry and a nice clash of persona, which Ride Along has, but not in droves. Ice Cube brings his usual performance to the table and as usual, I just wasn’t that taken with the put on anger, it comes off as forced and inauthentic. He is so over the top it sometimes gets a laugh, but more often than not, it is just tired and with a more subtle, skilled comedic presence, perhaps this movie could have risen above the mediocre watermark it hits. Kevin Hart fares better and carries Ice Cube through most of the scenes, but he needs someone to play off, which doesn’t happen here. I also think it seems like Hart dials up his performance to match Ice Cube’s ridiculous ham handed tone, which makes him even more shrill and annoying than usual. The two have flashes of being a good comic tandem, but more often than not, it falls flat. The cast of Ride Along also includes Bruce McGill, Bryan Callen, Tika Sumpter, Laurence Fishburne, and John Leguizamo.