In spite of its flaws, Ride Along is just enough fun to maintain attention.
It is not a great film, not by any stretch. From the opening minutes, we know exactly what will happen, how the characters will come together, and, even, who the villains are. (Casting tells us that much.)
As problematically, Ride Along doesn’t develop complex characters to combat its predictability. James Payton (Ice Cube) is angry, protective and violent. Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) is optimistic, determined, a little naive and fearless. Brooks (Bruce McGill) is a confrontational police lieutenant.
And they are the best developed characters in the picture. Angela (Tika Sumpter), Santiago (John Leguizamo) and Miggs (Bryan Callen) are traitless.
Ice Cube’s performance does not help, either. He is as depthless as his character, flashing anger even when he’s meant to be vulnerable.
Kevin Hart is better, insofar as he’s funny, riffing on his own height, deliberately making his voice as screechy as he can, and so forth. But he finds no more depth that Ice Cube.
Even still, the film does not collapse.
Mostly because Hart, Director Tim Story and Writer Phil Hay enliven the picture with such frenetic energy and humor that it maintains interest. It is rapidly paced and always keeps the action at the forefront.
As well as the comedy. Much of this movie is laugh out loud funny.
Moreover, the director, Tim Story, is adept in action sequences, ensuring that we can follow the action, at the same time he crafts a silly tone. He realizes we anticipate James and Ben’s safety, so he doesn’t attempt suspense or tension. Instead, he builds humor and thereby ensures we want to see the unlikely partners escape.
Yet, Story extends the action too far, at one point having Ben be needlessly stupid, right before the villain appears. Ride Along is then bogged down by the scene’s consequences. As such, the movie is ten to fifteen minutes too long.
Underdeveloped characters, a formulaic plot and depthless performances hurt Ride Along, but manic energy and frequent humor keep it watchable. In the end, maybe that’s all it wants, anyway.