Movie Review: Ride Along 2
By Ben Gruchow
January 19, 2016
Ride Along 2 constitutes 30 minutes of shrill and embarrassing incident, given an interminable 60-minute wind-up; it’s the sort of misbegotten studio-mandated claptrap that gives January a bad name at the theater. The movie’s status as a blatant cash-in on the surprising box-office success of 2014’s Ride Along, unseen by me, is evident from the divergent cast lineups between the two installments: nobody seems to have returned save Ice Cube and Kevin Hart as the two leads, and Tika Sumpter as Hart’s fiancée.
Not that the presence of Laurence Fishburne would have helped things, of course. Laurence Olivier couldn’t salvage this material. The story, such as it is, involves a shady businessman arranging for shipments of illicit material from a Miami port. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart play James Payton and Ben Barber, two Atlanta police detectives who are, for some reason, invaluable enough to be transported across state lines to assist the Miami police department with tracking down the culprit. We in the audience, of course, know that said culprit is Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt); the movie carelessly flings its hand down in the first scene, and so we are taken on one of those tiring movie journeys where we already know what it takes the main characters several long stretches of unconvincing detective work to discover.
Let me give you an example of what this film has to offer in that department: Early on, a character retrieves a USB flash drive from the antagonist’s possession. How this happens - and which character does the retrieving - escapes me, even though it has been only a few hours since I left the theater. I would take issue with an enjoyable version of this film performing so insubstantially in long-term memory, let alone what we’re actually provided. Anyway, the USB drive is given over to the Atlanta PD’s forensics department, where the lone technician more or less throws up his hands: “This drive fried my computer!” he says. “It’s hacker-level encryption!” he adds, letting us know in gleefully intimidating terms about how the drive’s owner right-clicked on the drive, selected "Encrypt," and chose a key with many characters. Where hacking comes in, I’m not certain. But then, I’m not a trained forensic technician.
But since the drive is encrypted (on a hacker level), and therefore filled with inaccessible gibberish data, how did the computer get fried? I haven’t even touched on the way they were able to identify the hacker by the big screen-sized signature he left behind, complete with mug shot (“We only got lucky because the hacker has an ego,” the forensic technician reminds us, confident in his knowledge of a computer hacker’s great weak spot). A screenwriter’s ineptitude at comprehending basic modern technology can be a source of diverting amusement if it’s in the middle of a would-be serious thriller. I know; I’ve seen The Perfect Guy. But Ride Along 2 is obsessed with being a loud and raucous comedy when it’s not trying to be a thriller, so this moment and others like it just sit there and curdle on-screen, like a bowl of milk left in the hot sun.