Ride Along (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/02/2014

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Watchable comedy enlivened by strong comic performances from the two leads, but the plot is weak, the characterisation is inconsistent and it's nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is.

What's it all about?
Directed by Tim Story, Ride Along stars Kevin Hart as fast-talking security guard Ben Barber, who's intending to propose to his long-term girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). However, he knows that he first has to obtain the blessing of her surly police officer brother James Payton (Ice Cube), so he agrees to accompany him on a 24 hour ride-along, patrolling the streets of Atlanta, in the hopes of either bonding with him or proving himself worthy of Angela's hand. Needless to say, things don't quite go according to plan and soon Ben is inadvertently caught up in the pursuit of a vicious local ganglord known only as Omar (Laurence Fishburne).

The Good
Hart's motor-mouthed screen persona is put to solid use here, sparking consistently amusing chemistry with Ice Cube's permanently scowling James (though it's fair to say Cube isn't really putting the effort in and essentially lets the scowl do the acting), though his chemistry with Sumpter is less apparent. Similarly, the central idea is solid (essentially a comedy version of Training Day, something the film points out within its own screenplay) and there's a passable amount of comic mileage in scenes such as Ben getting trash-talked by a seven year old or displaying a rather handy knowledge of illicit weaponry thanks to his time spent playing shoot-'em-up video games (a decent running joke).

The Bad
The main problem is that the central story is extremely weak, with woefully predictable twists that fail to provide their supposed shock value, or at least they do if you've ever seen a film before. Similarly, director Story fails to establish a consistent tone to the film, so it swings between fitfully amusing, family-friendly knockabout gags and more violent jokes, where the audience are suddenly expected to laugh at people getting killed by accident; the net result is that several of the jokes fall flat and the film isn't nearly as funny as it thinks it is, with a little of Hart's motor-mouth shtick going a long way.

A bigger problem is the wildly inconsistent characterisation – for example, Ben is established as an inveterate coward (who, for example, collapses to the floor in terror when James pays them a surprise visit), yet he also puts himself in great danger by fronting up to vicious criminals on numerous occasions. Similarly, Sumpter's character is painfully underwritten and only exists as a plot device, while Fishburne puts in even less effort than Cube, performance-wise and that's saying something.

Worth seeing?
The chemistry between Hart and Cube ensures that Ride Along remains watchable, but there's nothing here that hasn't been done better elsewhere (come back, Rush Hour, all is forgiven, etc.) and it's ultimately let down by a lazy screenplay, a weak plot, lacklustre performances and poor characterisation.

Film Trailer

Ride Along (12A)
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Content updated: 20/07/2018 11:55

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