A weak con man panics when he learns he's going to prison for fraud. He hires a mysterious martial arts guru who helps transform him into a martial arts expert who can fight off inmates who want to hurt or love him.
Unlucky, clumsy, charming Marseile PD detective Émilien Coutant-Kerbalec must assist worse-then-Clouseau commissioner Gibert guarding a Belgian criminal reputed as dangerous as - and caged ... See full summary »
No matter how popular this film becomes at the box office, Kevin Hart no longer has to prove himself as being worthy of a lead star. His comedic timing and graceful style more than prove that in Ride Along. The trouble is that the film itself is so lacking in almost any originality or intelligence that he would have had to do a lot in order to show himself worse than the movie.
Playing the comic relief in a pale yet obvious retread of 48 Hrs. and Training Day, Hart fully utilizes his short stature and body language to his strength. Being rather short, indeed shorter than his female co-star Tika Sumpter, Hart compensates by playing a man-child with a large inferiority complex. Constantly attempting to prove himself capable of something of value, he still cannot help but invoke his knowledge of childish things, mainly video games. He also cries in terror, jumps into his brother-in-law's arms and looks for acceptance at every turn. He is, in fact, a fully-grown imp. What is astonishing about him is how he uses this to carry the movie along. Scene after scene drags along with the obligatory sense of having been done countless times beforehand but it is Hart's sentimentality that shines beyond the dull narrative. Though his facial expressions are often overwrought, he is still capable of carrying scenes purely through his timing and understanding of comic development. At times, he sounds like he is improvising a stand-up bit. Other times, he seems to invoke the speed-demon, whirlish style of Eddie Murphy. No matter his tactic, he makes it count despite a lack of support.
Making things more frozen than necessary is Ice Cube, scrunching up his face in attempting to portray a hard-ass of a cop; one of those lone, righteous moralists who is willing to go against any and all authority in order to prove himself as being right all along about his case. Of course he is, but what is confusing is how the film seems to condemn his behavior as a loner, yet justifies his actions during the course of the story. It is never clear which side the movie falls on and it most likely does not matter. Truthfully, none of the characters or plot points seem necessary at all except to showcase the difference between Hart's ambitious high-school security guard trying to become an Atlanta policeman and Ice Cube's tough-as-nails detective on the hunt for the most ferocious kingpin in the city, so terrifying and imposing that no one has ever seen his face (You will guess who it is right away; the opening credits give it away).
The biggest fault in the screenplay is its lack of developing the relationship between the two key characters: Ice Cube and his sister. Supposedly, they are very close due to being raised in foster homes, leading to him playing over-protective daddy to her. The trouble is the writers never give them a scene for themselves. What kind of relationship did they have or have now? And how has it changed as they have gotten older? And, furthermore, what is Ice Cube's personal life? Does he have one? Clearly, these were not on the writers' or director's mind. The final priority seems to have been only to ensure Kevin Hart came out looking like a fine-bred, comedic leading man for years to come. In this, the movie has succeeded. However, the makers of the movie should not pat themselves on the back. Save that for Mr. Hart himself, the only saving grace in this entire tired, formulaic story.
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