FILM REVIEWS: Bad Boys Ride or Die, and The Dead Don’t Hurt

Will Smith is back in the building… 19 years after he really was at Cineworld Broad Street.

Back in March 2005 he was promoting the film Hitch and was greeted by thousands of fans on Broad Street for its UK premiere.

My picture of Smith in the Cineworld bar shows him holding a souvenir page about Birmingham’s cinema history that I’d written specially for him.

He said how he had really noticed – and loved – ‘the garb’ being worn by women fans from so many different cultures who’d braved a bitterly-cold wind to see him.

In March 2022, Smith blotted his best actor Oscar-winning turn in King Richard by slapping Academy Awards’ host Chris Rock live on TV. Can this movie revive his career?

Bad Boys Ride or Die (15, 115 mins). Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return with a sequel to Bad Boys For Life (2020) in what is now the fourth installment of the buddy cop series which began in 1995.

Smith plays ladies’ man Mike Lowry, now getting married, at the same time as trying to keep partner Marcus Burnett off junk food following his soon-forgotten heart attack.

In the original movie, the pair had to protect a murder witness while investigating the disappearance of heroin from their police storage department. A Cuban drug cartel supplying Ecstasy was their remit in 2003 and by 2020 they were battling a mother-and-son drug operation.

In Ride or Die, they try to clear the name of their late former Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) who has been implicated in corruption. Like the last film, this has been directed by a Moroccan-Belgian pair known as Adil and Bilall.

Verdict: ** The new Bad Boys is introduced as a Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer film, even though producer Don died in 1996. What this means is that it will all look impossibly glossy on screen, be ultra-violent (the first movie was an 18) and contain lots of very strong language.

Even on the best sound-and-vision IMAX and Dolby screens at Cineworld and Odeon Broadway Plaza, it certainly won’t make much sense to the uninitiated, with Michael ‘Mr Mayhem’ Bay (who directed the first two films) making a cameo appearance in a car.

Explosions abound, bullets fly relentlessly and it makes you fear for what could actually happen to the gun-laden US society if former President and ‘convicted felon’ Donald Trump is actually jailed during his 11 July sentencing.

Lawrence’s Big Momma’s House films were guaranteed to keep him in Smith’s career shadow outside of this franchise, but he’s still level-pegging here and the pair’s banter will doubtless entertain fans. Smith gets slapped, too. But will this reverse echo of his Academy Awards malfunction provide career redemption? Not on its own…

Buddy cop movies can be a fun genre, but it’s time for Smith and Lawrence to let the younger generation have a go to see if they can’t fashion the next Lethal Weapon, 48 Hrs, Training Day and so on.

The Dead Don’t Hurt (15, 129 mins). Vienne Le Coudy (Vicky Krieps) meets Danish immigrant Holger Olsen (Viggo Mortensen) in the 1860s. But when he fights for the Union during the Civil War, she’s left to fend for herself in a place with a corrupt mayor and his lustful son. When Olsen returns, they will be two different people…

Verdict: **** This is the kind of all-too rare Western that fans of movies like Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven will adore. Writer Steven Knight’s Eastern Promises (2007) star Mortensen is one of Hollywood’s finest actors, all the more so for never relying on low hanging fruit.

Mortensen has more than earned the right to have a go at directing himself after building up the kind of career credit that Tommy Lee Jones needed to shoot The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada back in 1995,

His film’s back-to-front and erratic timeline might infuriate those who want more direct action, but Krieps’ performance is ample compensation. Cineworld Broad Street only.

ENDS

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