Film Review | Ride Along
It’s difficult not to think of those classic Eddie Murphy cop films when watching Ride Along (2014), the latest film to see Kevin Hart flex his comedic muscles. There are many similarities between the two loquacious humorists, and while there is no denying Hart’s leading man potential he is still in pursuit of a project that can fully utilise his talent. An uninspired buddy cop comedy, Ride Along means the search continues.
Directed by Tim Story (perhaps best known for Barbershop and Fantastic Four), Hart plays Ben, a fast-talking video-game enthusiast with dreams of graduating from high school security guard to full-fledged cop. When he gets accepted into the police academy, he believes he’s finally ready to propose to his long- time girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). Before that can happen, however, our man must earn the blessing of Angela’s over-protective street detective James (21 Jump Street ball-breaker Ice Cube) by proving he has what it takes on a ride along. Naturally, James is not much of a fan of Ben’s life outlook, and sets out to dissuade the prospective nuptials by making him miserable whilst simultaneously investigating the most important case of his career.
It should come as no surprise that from the get-go you know exactly where this particular ‘ride’ is going, but there are plenty of bumps en route to its conclusion. A disappointing mix of comedy that only works sporadically and leaden action vignettes that never excite, the narrative is setup well enough but haphazard in its execution. This is particularly true of the concurrent plot to capture a criminal mastermind; by the time the villain has been revealed and our protagonists team-up to stop him, we’re past caring.
Considering Story has already directed Hart in Think Like a Man (2012), you’d think he’d have a better idea of the comedian’s strengths and how to play to them, but too often it feels like Hart has been left to fend for himself. There are times when he’s able to pull it off, but the ratio is more than evened out with riffs where the funnyman’s shtick begins to grate. As a sparring partner, former rapper Cube rarely ventures from his default mode – an impeccably furrowed scowl – and as a consequence any chemistry between the leading men is hard-earned. Elsewhere, comedic vets John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen are wasted on non-distinct supporting characters, whilst Sumpter’s Angela is one of the more underwritten damsels in recent memory.
A few amiable segments here and there means that some may end up enjoying Ride Along more than they should, but as far as variations on the buddy cop genre go this is more miss than hit. One for Hart enthusiasts only.
This review was originally published at CineVue.