By Joshua Pacheco
Before I begin on the analysis of Ride Along 2, let me being by giving a brief summary of this movie. First of all, it is a sequel to Ride Along, which also starred actor Ice Cube & comedian Kevin Hart. On this ‘ride along’, detective James Payton, played by Ice Cube & his to-be brother-in-law and cop partner, Ben Barber, portrayed by Kevin Hart, head to Miami to try and bust a major drug dealer, Antonio Pope, played by Benjamin Bratt, who has also murdered the Port Commissioner Griffin. James’ original partner, Mayfield, portrayed by Tyrese Gibson, got shot and injured because of Ben’s actions in a prior situation leaving him in the hospital – forcing James to drag Ben along for the trip to Miami. With that being said, James is not happy about Ben being his partner for this case and is always putting him down and taking charge of everything since he believes he is not fit for this position. Ben, on the other hand, sees this case as an opportunity to prove to James and the rest of the force that he has the ability to be a detective.
The first perspective of this movie I would like to focus on are the actors and their phenomenal performances. Ice Cube, or James, is a tough detective who likes to take charge and get right down to business when dealing with crime and its criminals; sort of the darker side of the yin-yang him and Ben create. He always talks down on Ben and makes him feel inferior to himself, but all Ben wants to do is help out. James believes that everything that comes out of Ben’s mouth is 9 times of out 10 ridiculously stupid & crazy, but that 10th thing he says goes above and beyond crazy – to an insane level of genius; James just does not like to give credit when its due & never acknowledges when Ben is right in a situation. That changes toward the middle of the movie when Maya speaks to James one and one and tells him that he should be more appreciative of Ben and give him a chance to really exploit his intelligence in this case; he doesn’t though. Ice Cube is known for his ‘tough guy’ performances from his previous movies, one example being 21 Jump Street, so seeing him go into this type of ‘cop’ mode is very familiar to me. He does the job great and gives off the impression that he has been in law enforcement for a while and this just comes naturally to him. His facial expressions, along with the emotion he puts into every word in every dialogue really convinces the audience & characters that he is no detective to play with.
Ben, on the other hand, is the lighter side of the yin-yang. He is the most energetic one who like to play the game by the book and adds humor to every situation; which is why the force & James take him as a joke. His energy, besides the action, is what kept me up and into the story which made it really enjoyable on my part. Tim Story, the director, couldn’t have hired a better cast because Kevin Hart was definitely the perfect guy for this role. He is a short, tough, smart guy with jokes oozing out his pores. Hart’s performance allows the audience to believe that he is truly a cop working hard to get the position of detective and his emotions & facial expressions drag the audience to truly feel for him in moments he felt alone and isolated from his wife and James. As mentioned, he is the light of the yin-yang & was always the peacemaker is heated situations.
Antonio Pope portrayed the typical high-end drug dealer that lived in Miami. He had slick black salt & pepper hair with a full gray goatee that was always sharp. He was well-dressed at all times and had a very evil smirk to him. Pope had the typical Spanish accent and was very well spoken which reminded of drug dealers from classic movies; one example being Scarface.
The majority of the movie’s setting was outdoors, so there wasn’t any huge transition from a dark place to a light place, implying emotion to them or anything. Every frame was at the same level of lighting and used natural light majority of the time. It didn’t really give off any type of feeling, no matter of the situation in the movie. What really gave off the intensity and suspense of certain scenes was the music & dialogue between characters. For example, the first action scene when Ben pulled up to where James & Mayfield were interrogating a suspect at a car party & Ben accidentally dropped his badge. Once the badge touched the floor, drums and trumpets began to play a suspicious theme and everyone’s eyes were focused on Ben with serious faces – looking like they wanted to kill him right then and there. A couple of words were exchanged & Mayfield let off the first shot and that is when a dubstep song began to play in the background with the first couple of lyrics saying “and the shots go off!” I find that pretty funny and ironic because as shots are going off, the lyrics of the song are describing the scene to the tee. Another great example is the last scene of the movie when Ben is married and drives away on a speedboat with his newlywed into lake behind their marriage location. As they are driving away, Ben floors the boat lever and accidentally drives over a wave created by another speedboat that sends him flying into the water – being dragged by the boat with a rope tied around his ankle. While his wife is trying to stop the boat, she says hold on and the song in the background begins to play and the words “and I love it” are sung. That gives off the irony that already a couple minutes into this lovely marriage, chaos has occurred and he has nothing to do but to love it! I find it funny but yet so clever, great choice of soundtracks Mr. Christopher Lennertz, who chose the soundtracks for this movie. To add on, toward the end of the movie, when Maya & James are approached and captured by
One very interesting thing that I loved about this movie is that Ben is a huge gamer, just like me, and is a fan of a certain game that is a spin-off of Grand Theft Auto. The game is about being a criminal and driving reckless throughout the city, dodging cops and killing innocents; another great display of irony, a cop killing cops and being a criminal. At one point in the movie, Ben is behind the wheel being chased by Pope’s thugs that want to kill him and James. When James begins to realize that Ben is driving crazy, Ben says to relax and leave him alone, for he is in his zone. After that was said, the camera shot was changed to the perspective of Ben who is seeing the world as he sees the video game – animated. The whole scene became animated and was a video game itself. It portrayed the same exact screen layout as the game with the miles per hour speedometer on the lower portion of the screen and his money and weapon of choice in the top right corner. This scene stays in this perspective for about 5-8 minutes and it is awesome. It was a great display of comparing reality with animation & imagination. At one point, Ben looked at James and even he was animated and it was just too funny; I was laughing throughout the whole scene.
One thing I noticed about a couple of scenes were that camera shots were very specific at certain points. For example, at one point, Ben & James are taken to Maya’s friend’s house who knows a lot of important intel on the suspect they’re trying to catch. Upon arrival, Maya’s friend walks in about 3
Throughout the rest of the movie, Ben is always seen as a nuisance to Maya & James, but is the real brains behind the case and becomes the hero at the end of the movie. As mentioned, he ended up popping up to save James & Maya’s life and capturing and killing Pope in the action. Ben then gets the acknowledgement he was been waiting for from James at his wedding during James’ toast to him before he leaves on the boat with his wife. Overall, this was a great piece of film. Tim Story did a fantastic job of directing and really knows who to cast for his characters. Every character fit perfectly and executed their role at every point of this movie. I will definitely be purchasing this for my library when it comes out digitally for purchase. But first, I need to get around to seeing the first part so that way I can get familiar with the scenarios that brought James and Ben together to begin with!