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Jun 06, 2024 12:42PM ● By Jenniffer Wardell

Credit for photo ©Columbia Pictures

Bad Boys: Ride or Die (in theaters) 

“Bad Boys: Ride or Die” isn’t so much an actual movie as it is a really long epilogue to the movie that came before it. 

Admittedly, 2020’s “Bad Boys for Life” was easily the best of the “Bad Boys” movie series, but that was partly because it did such a good job of standing on its own. “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” utterly fails to do that, with the bulk of the emotional and narrative buildup either happening in the previous film or in the space between the movies. Though it does eventually build to a suitably entertaining climax – undoubtedly the bit that should have been attached to the last movie – the whole first half feels like padding. It’s either middling jokes or plot elements being creakily set up for use in the finale, as if the filmmakers were killing time as much as the audience will be. 

If you’re interested in watching, I urge you to re-watch “Bad Boys for Life” so the plot points will be fresh in your mind. The only plot points here that don’t directly stem from that movie are Will Smith’s wedding, which happens solely so he’ll have a hostage to get emotional about later, and Martin Lawrence’s near-death experience. That plot point serves solely as a running gag, the humor of which will depend entirely on whether you think Lawrence is funny. 

The ending is easily the best part of the movie, both because of the action and because we get some good, emotional follow-up on some lingering plot points from the last movie. The best part is Smith’s complicated relationship with his grown son, which he discovered he had in the last movie. He and Jacob Scipio have some nice moments, and in some theoretical better version of the movie they’re no doubt the heart of it. 

Grade: One and a half stars

Hit Man (Netflix) 

Though director Richard Linklater is best known for reflective, sweetly melancholic movies, he also has a darker, more playful side. 

While he’s previously let that side out only in movies with Jack Black, he and Glen Powell will hopefully become even better cinematic besties. Their newest collaboration, “Hit Man,” is a sexy, incredibly fun romp with just the right amount of darkness. It has the bones of a romantic action comedy, along with the genre’s most audience-satisfying impulses, but it doesn’t feel hemmed in by it. Combined with an unexpectedly deep message and killer performances by Powell and Adria Arjona, the result is a deeply entertaining movie that also manages to feel fresh. 

Powell plays Gary, a sweet, nerdy professor who moonlights as a fake assassin for sting operations. He meets Maddy (Arjona) on one of these assignments, managing to talk her out of killing her husband and starting a relationship with her without telling her about his double life. When Maddy’s ex-husband contacts Gary to set up a hit, however, the lines between his two lives begin to blur. 

Powell and Arjona are both fantastic in this. Powell, who co-wrote the script, perfectly balances Gary’s softer academic side and the darker aspects that make it so easy for him to fake being an assassin. Arjona is dynamic enough to singe the screen, and she and Powell have incredible chemistry. 

Together, they make sure “Hit Man” hits right where it’s aiming. 

Grade: Three and a half stars

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