Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Ride Along
Ride Along is the second film I'm reviewing this weekend that earned bad reviews that already has a sequel in the works. I'm not surprised it is getting a sequel. After all, it did earn nearly $135 million on just a $25 million production budget, but a big box office doesn't mean high quality. Were the critics right to lambast this film? Or were moviegoers right to check it out in theaters? And if so, is the Blu-ray Combo Pack worth picking up?
Ice Cube stars as James Payton, a cop whom we meet while he's undercover buying forged passports. The deal looks good, but the guy he is buying from gets a text saying it's a trap and suddenly there's a shootout in a crowded mall followed by a dangerous car chase. James gets his man, but causes a lot of damage in the process.
Meanwhile we meet Ben Barber, who is on his couch playing video games. However, his game is interrupted by his girlfriend, Angela Peyton, who wants him to get ready for work. She also wants to talk about them getting married. Ben has a plan. He will join the police academy, become a cop, and then rise up the ranks. Angela wants him to run this by her brother, James, because he's her only living relative. Ben's not happy about this, but agrees regardless.
James and the two other cops on this mission, Santiago and Miggs, get chewed out by their boss, Lt. Brooks, and for good reason. James has been on the trail of a organized crime boss, Omar, for two-and-a-half years and so far has no leads at all. Brooks is putting James on a short leash, but James seems unperturbed.
We next see Ben at his day job; he's a security guard at a local high school. We see him confront a student and try to convince him he should study harder. I think it is supposed to be an emotional scene, but it fails. He does get some good news, as he receives his letter telling him he got into the Police Academy. He calls James to tell him the good news, but James doesn't answer the call.
Instead James talks to Santiago and Miggs about Ben. He says he's going to have to convince Angela to ditch Ben some other way. He gets an opportunity when Ben tells him he got into the Academy. He gets a sudden idea. He will take Ben on a ride-along and prove to Ben he isn't worthy to be a cop or be with Angela.
From this point on, the film is a typical buddy cop comedy in terms of plot, but the details are in spoiler territory.
Ride Along is a buddy cop comedy, but it is simply not funny enough to be a comedy. Kevin Hart is one of the biggest stand-up comics working today and he has a number of extended bits he goes on, but almost none of them generate enough laughs to be worth the running time. Ice Cube does little more than act gruff, which is nowhere near enough to be an engaging character. The actual crime part of the plot doesn't do a lot to help the film either. A criminal mastermind whom no one has seen is hardly new, while films about corrupt cops are even more common. In fact, the big reveal for who the corrupt cops were is so cliché that I was only surprised the film would be this lazy to reuse it. There were a couple of moments that were good. Some of the action scenes were well done and I did like how Ben was able to help James out with his knowledge of guns he learned by playing video games, but that's as close as this film comes to bringing something new to the genre.
Extras on the DVD include an audio commentary track with the director, Tim Story. There are also three minutes of outtakes. There are also two featurettes, a 12-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and a 3-minute look at shooting in Atlanta. The Blu-ray also has an alternative ending, deleted scenes, and Kevin Hart and Ice Cube goofing off in the car. Finally, there are four behind-the-scenes featurettes: Kev & Cube’s Wild Ride, You Gonna Learn Today, Anatomy of the Big Blast, and An Explosive Ride. All four of them are roughly 5 minutes long.
The technical presentation is excellent with high level of details and strong colors. A lot of the film takes place at night or in dark rooms, so the dark levels are important and they are solid. There are no compression issues or digital artifacts to distract you. The audio is also very good with clear dialogue and lots of activity in the surround sound speakers. There's good separation and some dynamic effects, plus the bass gets time to shine as well.
The Blu-ray costs only $2 or 11% more than the DVD, which is excellent for a film that has exclusive extras.
Ride Along is not funny enough for a buddy cop comedy and the plot is filled with clichés. If you really liked the movie, then the Blu-ray Combo Pack is worth picking up over the DVD, but if you skipped it in theaters, you likely made a wise choice.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-04-13