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Ride Along Blu-ray ReviewUniversal
- Studio: Universal
- Distributed By: N/A
- Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DTS
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- Rating: PG-13
- Run Time: 1 Hr. 40 Min.
- Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
- Case Type:
- Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
- Region: ABC
- Release Date: 04/15/2014
- MSRP: $34.98
The Production Rating: 2/5Ride Along is probably a reviewer-proof movie. There’s really not enough material to do much of an analysis, and even after one is done, it won’t make a difference to the audience that clearly enjoyed it in the movie theater and on this Blu-ray. Fans of Kevin Hart, who seems to be popping up nearly everywhere on film these days, won’t be deterred by discussions of how shallow this movie is – they clearly are having fun watching him in action. (I’m wondering if Hart may have broken Michael Caine’s record for most appearances in movies within a single year…) For fans of the movie and of Hart, I’ll just say that this Blu-ray offers a nice way to experience it again, and includes some bonus material they’ll enjoy. Readers interested in a little more detail can proceed to the next paragraph.
Watching this movie, it’s clear that the filmmakers were making a cocktail mix of buddy action movies and cop dramas, mostly using 2001’s Training Day as an inspiration. There’s also some nods to 48 Hrs and Lethal Weapon thrown in to boot, although the current movie suffers more in comparison to those films. The story here finds detective James Payton (Ice Cube) taking his sister’s boyfriend Ben (Kevin Hart) on a ride-along, testing him both in his aptitude to become a cop and to become a member of the family. The movie starts with a big action sequence in downtown Atlanta, just to establish that Payton really is a hard-edged cop, so things start off with a shootout, a car chase and some huge explosions in slow motion. After that, the movie has Hart’s character take the lead, as Ben is confronted with multiple annoying police situations that he clearly cannot handle. (And there’s a contradiction here – Ben is presented as a fairly effective school security guard who is able to talk to the kids and keep them on the right path, and he’s also been accepted into the Atlanta Police Academy. But the second he gets into Payton’s car, all of Ben’s abilities go right out the window – until he needs to prove himself in the final act.) The movie serves as a series of vignettes where Ice Cube’s veteran cop has to put up with the latest ad-libbed reactions and one-liners from Kevin Hart’s rookie. Predictably, an early situation gives Hart the chance to recite Denzel Washington’s infamous rant from Training Day nearly word for word. Of course, there’s also a small backbone of plot running underneath everything – that Payton is tracking an Atlanta crimelord named “Omar” who could be the big bust of Payton’s career.
SPOILERS HERE: Reaching to give Kevin Hart a spectacular improvisation opportunity, the movie has Payton and Ben infiltrate a major illegal gun sale, with Ben impersonating Omar in an outrageous manner. Except that the real Omar (Laurence Fishburne) shows up to spoil the party. From this point forward, and including the predictable reveal that Payton’s detective associates are working for Omar, the movie takes on a fairly typical action movie tone, with more fights, chases and big explosions. I should note that somehow through the course of these action beats, Ben seems to be as impervious to pain and injury as the Energizer Bunny – probably even more so than Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies. Everything leads to the final confrontation with Omar threatening Payton’s sister (Tika Sumpter) and thus giving both Payton AND Ben a reason to take him out. Given that this is a comedy, the reader can guess how things turn out.
SPOILERS DONE: The movie certainly has amusing moments, and Kevin Hart’s earnestness can be fun to watch at times. The big action beats are played quite effectively when they come up. And the city of Atlanta is given a great spotlight as the action moves everywhere from the downtown shopping centers to the outskirts of town. But there just isn’t very much filling in this sandwich. Beyond a series of vignettes for Kevin Hart to improv his way through a problem, there isn’t anything more going on for most of the movie. The tone is decidedly light, set early on by Ben’s playfulness with a violent video game. This is fine, but once Omar gets involved, the movie switches into a violent mode where people are being shot and killed for real, without adjusting the tone. It’s a fun idea to do Training Day as a comedy, but inevitably the contradiction will arise about whether it’s funny to shoot people to death. Training Day itself was a fairly serious movie, spiked with moments of edgy humor. Ride Along is trying to be a funny movie with occasionally serious moments in it – except that when they come up, the filmmakers have no idea what to do with them. Prior action comedy/dramas like Lethal Weapon and 48 Hrs handled this equation much better. Lethal Weapon was anchored by a surprisingly ragged performance by Mel Gibson, whose character’s suicidal grief was convincing enough to keep the viewer off balance – you never knew what he was going to do. 48 Hrs had a strong backbone of plot as Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy tracked some fairly nasty killers across San Francisco. 48 Hrs also started off with sequences that not only established Nolte as a cop but also the running problem between him and the killers – with a wrenching scene involving the always-interesting Jonathan Banks, years before his great turns on Wiseguy and Breaking Bad. And 48 Hrs had a similar sequence of improv-heavy vignettes for the partners, only there the material was being handled by Eddie Murphy in his prime. Which is sadly, another major area where Ride Along just can’t compete – Kevin Hart is a fun comedian with great energy, but he’s simply not at the level of Eddie Murphy from 48 Hrs. I’m sure on paper that this movie sounded like a great idea – put Ice Cube and Kevin Hart on the street together in Atlanta and see how they deal with some funny situations. In practice, the results are hit and miss, mostly miss.
The Blu-ray presents the movie in solid high definition picture and sound. Bonus features include a commentary with director Tim Story and about 48 minutes of featurettes and deleted material. The Blu-ray also includes the DVD edition and access to a Digital Copy of the movie.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
Ride Along is presented in a 2.40:1 1080p AVC encode (@ an average 33 mbps) that provides solid high definition picture, including plenty of detail in the locations and costumes as well as the slow motion action sequences. Flesh tones are handled well, and the movie looks great both in daylight and nighttime sequences.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5Ride Along has an English DTS-HD MA 5.1mix (@ an average 3.5 mbps, going up to 5.1 mbps during the big action beats), which fills the home theater with plenty of music and bass hits to go along with the quips and ad-libs coming from the front channels. The Blu-ray also includes a Spanish DTS 5.1 mix and an English DVS 2.0 track.
Special Features: 3/5The Blu-ray of Ride-Along comes with a scene-specific commentary and nearly 50 minutes of featurettes and deleted scenes.
Commentary with Director Tim Story – (AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This scene-specific commentary from Tim Story includes many production stories and a slew of compliments for the cast. Story mentions that the movie’s budget was “lower than you think” and notes that the opening action chase and explosions were added in a reshoot after Universal saw the rough cut and approved additional funds for a bigger bang. Story notes that he was able to get Laurence Fishburne to do the villain role here after his work with him on the second Fantastic Four movie a few years back.
Alternate Ending (1:42, 1080p) – (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – SPOILER HERE: This is a quick alternative to the barbecue ending, showing instead Ben’s graduation from the Academy, and then inexplicably the notion that he would immediately go on ANOTHER ride-along, this time in his dress uniform.
Deleted Scenes (8:23 Total, 1080p) – (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – SPOILERS HERE: Six deleted scenes are presented here, including an alternate opening for the movie with Payton encountering the bad guys before the moment that was used in the theatrical release, some assorted odds and ends, and then an added violent coda wherein bad guy Omar, after having been shot multiple times, proves himself to be even more resilient than Ben, probably setting the stage for the sequel currently being produced. The deleted scenes may be viewed individually or via a “Play All” function.
Alternate Take (1:38, 1080p) – (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is an unused take of Ice Cube and Kevin Hart goofing off in the car, with plenty of expletives getting bleeped out along the way.
Gag Reel (2:59, 1080p) – (AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – A short gag reel is presented, mostly showing the cast goofing up their lines or breaking up laughing. About a minute of this material consists of Ice Cube responding to a loud fan yelling to him in the middle of a take.
It Was a Good Day: On the Set of Ride Along (11:52, 1080p) – (AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This is a fairly typical EPK featurette, with plenty of clips from the movie and interview soundbites with the cast. The producers, including Ice Cube, say very complimentary things about the cast, especially about Laurence Fishburne.
Kev & Cube’s Wild Ride (5:16, 1080p) – (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This featurette covers the fun of putting the two actors together on the streets of Atlanta and doing process trailer work.
You Gonna Learn Today (4:39, 1080p) – (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This featurette is a series of compliments praising Kevin Hart’s improv abilities.
Anatomy of the Big Blast (4:50, 1080p) – (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This featurette covers the huge warehouse explosion seen in the movie, as the filmmakers set up multiple cameras and a fair amount of SPFX materials to make a giant fireball. To their credit, the filmmakers are shown being extremely safe about the way they handle this situation, which includes keeping the fans and the crew a safe distance away from the explosion.
An Explosive Ride (5:08, 1080p) – (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This short featurette focuses on the stunts and action in the movie, including multiple fights and chases. The opening market shootout gets the most attention.
Atlanta: The Character (3:19, 1080p) – (AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This featurette covers the fact that the movie was shot on location in Atlanta, and shows the filmmakers trying to embrace the location as an element of the story. (Mysteriously absent from this discussion is the fact that the movie was only made in Atlanta to take advantage of the tax incentive…)
DVD – The Blu-ray includes in the packaging the DVD edition of the movie, which presents the film in 480p picture and English and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes (448 kbps) . The DVD also carries over the English DVS track from the Blu-ray. For special features, the DVD carries over Tim Story’s commentary, the Gag Reel and the featurettes It Was a Good Day and Atlanta: The Character.
Digital/Ultraviolet Copy – The packaging has an insert that contains instructions for downloading a digital or ultraviolet copy of the movie.
Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish for the film itself, as well as for the special features. A standard chapter menu is included for quick reference.