Film Of The Week: RIDE ALONG (2014)

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube lead the lineup in Ride Along, the new film from the director and the producer of the blockbuster comedy Think Like a Man.    
When a fast-talking guy joins his girlfriend’s brother—a hot-tempered cop—to patrol the streets of Atlanta, he gets entangled in the officer’s latest case. Now, in order to prove that he deserves his future bride, he must survive the most insane 24 hours of his life.   
For the past two years, high-school security guard Ben Barber (Hart) has been trying to show decorated APD detective James Peyton (Cube) that he’s more than just a video-game junkie who’s unworthy of James’ sister, Angela (Tika Sumpter). When Ben finally gets accepted into the academy, he thinks he’s earned the seasoned policeman’s respect and asks for his blessing to marry Angela.   
Knowing that a ride along will demonstrate if Ben has what it takes to take care of his sister, James invites him on a shift designed to scare the hell out of the trainee. But when the wild night leads them to the most notorious criminal in the city, James will find that his new partner’s rapid-fire mouth is just as dangerous as the bullets speeding at it.

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube headline this latest crime comedy from director Tim Story about a security guard who, at the behest of his girlfriend and bride-to-be, gets an opportunity to obtain the blessing he seeks from her brother, a hard-nosed detective working one of the biggest cases of his career. Honestly, I usually go to the movies for action films that tend to be darker and grittier, although Ride Along was a pretty neat change of pace for me.

Comedian and actor Hart does an amazing job carrying the film's comedic beats as the fast talking, ambitious rookie opposite actor/producer Cube's cold, often cruel cop exterior during their misadventures together. As the story progresses, their reluctant partnership is highlit by Peyton's attempts to see Barber fail, which sets up a pretty neat game-changer halfway through the film when things get a little more serious, while actress Tika Sumpter does a great job in the role of Angela whose unrelenting love and support for Barber opens the door for the usual raunchy comedy which proves terrific for some Hart-style laughs.

The action begins almost as soon as the movie starts with Cube, and actor John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen also playing Cube's fellow detectives who also hone in on their own natural comedic delivery for a few minutes in the film before things heat up just before the third act. Playing their lieutenant is actor Bruce McGill, one of my favorite actors for a long time now, in addition to actor Lawrence Fishburne who plays the villain.

Despite a few flaws, the film carries a solid blend of action and laughs between the film's few gunfights, chase scenes, explosions, with some of the more entertaining, action-driven moments featuring Cube letting loose for his character's more hands-on method of police work, while Hart's parallel performance commands much of the film's comedic pace in many of the fish-out-of-water moments leading up to the final showdown. Some of the gags do hit a fever pitch or two in some portions of the film where things slowdown a bit, but it's nothing major and does not take away from the film's overall delivery in a film that guarantees Cube's staying power as an action hero, and Hart's prominence as one of the most bankable actors of this decade.

In conclusion, not bad for a film that made number one for three weeks in a row since its theatrical release last month as the studio prepares the sequel, with living proof that filmgoers still love a good old-fashioned action film. Ride Along isn't for everyone, but fans of the buddy cop genre will appreciate what the Cube/Hart duo have happening here in this first of a growing story with lots of potential, and a formula that keeps the engine running, and filmgoers entertained from start to end.


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