Ride Along (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus sits in the back as Kevin Hart and Ice Cube bicker all ride along....
One hardened street cop (Ice Cube) decides to give his potential brother in law (Kevin Hart) a ride along for the day in the hope that he can put his sister's choice in her future husband into question when its proven he doesn't have what it takes to make it as a cop. All is going well until the pair get caught up in long running case involving a cop killer and this unlikely pair get thrust into action cop mayhem.
Essentially this fast and loose plot is a combination of many that’s come before it. Straight off this cobines Rush Hour (unconventional partners with one of them bathed deep in comedy) with a bit of Lethal Weapon 4 (in that one of the characters is looking to marry the other's family member) via Training Day (in that we're riding around the streets with discussions about crime and how it works). Sadly nothing about Ride Along does anything fresh. Kevin Hart gets his time in the spotlight, which is pretty good but not consitant but Ice Cube is doing nothing but his usual thing with very little in the way of charm, which is a shame as he's often displayed plenty of it in projects such as Friday or more recently the Jump Street flicks.
Another let down that Ride Along, as well as many more of this type of these odd couple actioners suffer from is that it doesn’t balance humour, action and drama at all well. The back and forths between Ice Cube and Kevin Hart work for the most part but Hart alone or interacting with other characters doesn’t so much. The film just avoids any and all realism and seems more like a checklist of cop stuff to make fun of. Minor disturbances, shooting ranges, a pretend crime to trick the newbie, a real crime that the newbie thinks is another trick before realising "This is real?!", all this stuff just feels like sketches cobbled together to bide time before the final act and actual plot rolls around.
It’s that plot that provides the weakest element. It just clunks more than anything. Every time it's discussed it just zaps the momentum of the film and feels nothing but routine and uninspired with a pretty inevitable twist coming at every turn. It’s one of those that you know all the way along will involve a close friend or colleague and getting there is just silly. There’s only so many times Hart can solve a problem because of his gaming knowledge, or something his girlfriend or a stranger says in passing. The constant bickering and mishaps are often cute but never enough to carry the film as long as the time dedicated to them and the eventual bromance heading our way makes the thin connection of the sister and the desire for Hart's character to be a cop not enough to warrant the danger they are constantly putting him in to get there.
Sure these action cop odd couple movies are easy targets. They are inherently ridiculous but when none of the ingredients are anywhere near strong enough it’s hard to stick around for the duration. Pretty much all other odd couple cop action flicks out there have better action sequences than what’s on offer here and most of them raise more than just a smirk, like this one seems happy settling for. Ride Along works in the tradition of the sub-genre but when you line it up against then best out there (I'd go with Bad Boys) this is like a Saturday afternoon TV show in comparison and just trundles along ticking the done many times before checklist its playing from rather than generating its own character in a crowded selection.
The glossy modern comedy actioner looks entirely as you'd expect, albeit even if it lacks the HD pop that DVD just can’t muster. That said, detail is still strong, with faces looking full of textures such as stubble, blemishes, wrinkles and whatever else. The film is bright and breezy full of nice deep black levels and nice pops of primary colours. Green grass leaps off the screen, though it also shows the lack of SD sharpness, flashy cars streak past with all the right "buy me" gloss and the sunlit good looks of the film gives everything a candy store glow.
The final act goes more for darkness as it struggles to get serious, with a lot more blues and greys sneaking in for a cooler look and again it all holds together with the well lit sets and good uses of colour. All in all this is a pretty good looking DVD presentation. Wider shots are noticeable softer than the close ups but beyond that little niggle this is an all round good looking modern presentation by DVD standards.
Throughout, dialogue is strong and central with sound effects and louder voices spreading across the front speakers to widen things. The score sits well in the front speakers but sometimes struggles to have a strong presence in the rears unless the soundtrack really kicks off. The hip hop tracks are the most consistent elements that make use of the bass and sound solid across the 5.1 set up.
Ride Along isn’t exactly full on action. In fact there’s not a great deal going on at all beyond the opening car chase. The last act’s shoot out has bullets bouncing around the room but their placement in speakers feel disconnected from what we’re seeing on screen which takes away the realism somewhat and makes for a rather cheap sounding experience.
Ride Along decided to leave the extras at the curb. Nothing to see here.
The gags in Ride Along are based more on pettiness rather than strong comedy writing and the 'Who is Omar?' mystery bad guy plot is so typical you can literally see the cogs turning as we head towards the famous face reveal as he arrives in film's climax. Most disappointingly, this odd couple buddy cop outing just isn’t all that fun, theres next to no real action beyond a bit of gun play and in fact at times its pretty close to being dull.
The DVD looks good for the format, sounds good and only feels lacking because the film gives it nothing to do really and with a total lack of extras, Ride Along becomes a rental option at best rather than a blind buy if you’ve not seen it but liked the look of it.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 30th June 2014
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1French, Dolby Digital 5.1German, Dolby Digital 5.1 Italian, Dolby Digital 5.1Spanish, English DVS
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Turkish, Swedish
Easter Egg: No
Director: Tim Story
Cast: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Laurence Fishburne
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime and Drama
Length: 95 minutes
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