Ride Along 2 busts itself on Blu-ray, with results that are no better than the first installment from 2014.
The Production: 2/5
Ride Along 2, like its predecessor, is a reviewer-proof movie. If you’re watching this film, it’s likely due to either enjoying that first film or due to enjoying the comic stylings of Kevin Hart. Which means that there isn’t much a reviewer can do to convince you otherwise. But we can always try… To be fair to the movie and its makers, the Blu-ray presentation of Ride Along 2 does provide solid picture and sound, and it comes with over an hour of bonus material as well as a commentary by the director. On a technical level and even on a consumer value level, this is a nice package. The issue for me is what’s actually in the movie itself.
SPOILERS: The first Ride Along was already an unbelievable premise, allowing Kevin Hart’s Ben to ride along with his soon-to-be brother in law cop James Payton (Ice Cube), which thus generated multiple opportunities for Kevin Hart to improv and ad-lib his way through sticky situations. As it turned out, the first movie was enough of a hit to generate an instant sequel, and so here we are again with Ride Along 2. This time around, the story has progressed a year or two, Ben is now a graduated police rookie and is on the verge of his wedding to Payton’s sister. But the filmmakers know not to stray away from their formula and some things never change. So the plot gets started with rookie Ben completely ruining what should have been a routine bust and causing spectacular vehicular damage in the process. In the real world, Ben would be thrown off the force without much fuss. In this movie, Payton agrees to take Ben with him on an assignment to Miami, where villain du jour Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt) is up to no good. Taking a cue from Lethal Weapon 2, the movie gives Payton and Ben an informer sidekick. Instead of Joe Pesci, we get Ken Jeong, who’s actually surprisingly restrained here. (One gets the feeling he may have been trying to play in a different vein from Kevin Hart, who predictably goes over the top every chance he gets.) The overall arc of the movie is similar to the first one, in that Ben bumbles his way through the investigation, nearly gets our heroes both killed and fired, only to come through in the big climax.
MORE SPOILERS: There are a few genuinely amusing moments along the way, to be honest. The new movie has a bit more fun with the notion of Ben being a videogamer – only this time, he’s playing a version of Grand Theft Auto. So for the big car chase sequence, the movie cleverly switches the visuals to put the viewer into a GTA animation of the action. As an added style point, the movie provides one GTA view of Ice Cube’s Payton yelling at Ben during the chase. There’s also one mildly amusing bit where Ben attempts to traverse Pope’s backyard only to encounter his pet alligator – the funny here is an understated Ken Jeong realizing the mistake and quietly commenting “Uh yeah, I dropped the ball on that one, I won’t lie to you. Did Marcus bite you?” Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between. Most of the film is occupied with giving Kevin Hart maximum opportunity to improv and ad-lib, and the entertainment value of that really depends on the viewer’s enjoyment of Kevin Hart in the first place. For myself, most of these moments are simply grating.
Ride Along 2 was released on Blu-ray on April 26th. The packaging includes Blu-ray and SD DVD editions of the movie with the Blu-ray containing most of the extra features and of course the reference quality picture and sound. Instructions for downloading a digital copy of the movie are included on an insert in the packaging.
3D Rating: NA
Ride Along 2 is presented in a 2.40:1 1080p AVC transfer (avg 34 mbps) that looks great, including plenty of beauty shots of Miami along the way. A variety of flesh tones and textures are presented in crisp detail. And the inset Grand Theft Auto game comes across beautifully in high definition.
Ride Along 2 is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix (avg 3.2 mbps, going up to 5.0 mbps for the big action sequences). There’s a fair amount of work for the surround channels here, given all the ambient music and the regular chases and shootouts. The subwoofer gets to play with the repeated crashes and explosions. There are also DTS 5.1 mixes available in Spanish and French and an English DVS 2.0 track.
Special Features: 3/5
The Blu-ray of Ride Along 2 comes with a generous array of special features, including a scene-specific commentary, and over 70 minutes of featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel and some other additional footage. The DVD edition includes the commentary and some of the bonus material. Both editions contain previews for other releases – the difference being that the Blu-ray uses online previews while the DVD has them on the actual disc.
Feature Commentary with Director Tim Story (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – Tim Story provides a scene-specific commentary for the movie. As he did with the first movie, he spends much of the commentary providing compliments to the cast and crew and talking about the good times had in making this movie. He does make some interesting comments about the Grand Theft Auto sequence, including a note that the visual and verbal “GAME OVER” on its tail is something that came out of a preview screening where an audience member yelled it.
Deleted Scenes (8:40 Total, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – Six deleted scenes are provided here, none of which are particularly necessary to the narrative.
Ride Along With Us (1:48, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This is a short greenscreen promo with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. It works to promote both the movie and the Atlanta Police Department.
Behind the Scenes of “Ride Along With Us” (1:24, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This is a collection of outtakes from the promo shoot, clearly showing the guys standing on a greenscreen stage and hamming it up.
Gag Reel (3:47, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – A nearly 4 minute gag reel is presented here, usually showing cast members cracking up at Kevin Hart’s improvs. Guiltiest party on that count is co-star Olivia Munn.
The Ride along Roundtable (15:52, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a sit-down discussion with Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, director Tim Story and producer Will Packer. There really isn’t much substance to this discussion, however. It’s all mutual compliments and jokes.
The Ride Diaries (20:28 Total, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a collection of 7 video diaries about the making of the production, tracking from the first day of shooting. The diaries actually clarify how much of the movie was shot in Miami, and how much was actually just done on stages or locations in Atlanta standing in for Miami.
Kevin & Cube: Brothers in Law (6:52, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This featurette focuses on the work of Kevin Hart and Ice Cube and the ways they interact with each other. As usual, the time is mostly taken up with clips from the film and on-set video in between the mutual compliments.
The New Recruits (6:21, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This featurette gets into the new cast members joining for the sequel, including Olivia Munn, Ken Jeong and Benjamin Bratt.
Inside Black Hammer Vision (3:24, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This featurette covers the Grand Theft Auto chase, and how the animated version was conceived.
Ride Along with Kevin Hart (5:26, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This featurette puts the viewer in the car with Kevin Hart as he starts his day, or as he works through his lines for a scene. There’s not much more than that here, although the viewer does get a good look at Hart’s trailer in Base Camp.
Cori’s Wedding Commercial (1:36, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a mock commercial for Cori (Sherri Shepherd), the wedding planner featured in the movie. Shepherd does some quick ad-libs on the wedding location, posing in front of the various bits of dressing seen there. This is buttressed by a few beauty shots of the set, which seem to have some uninvited wedding guests that look like a movie crew hanging around the periphery…
DVD Edition – An SD DVD of the movie is included in the packaging, containing the movie in an anamorphic 2.40:1 transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in English, Spanish and French (@448 kbps), as well as the English DVS track. The DVD also holds the commentary, the deleted scenes, the gag reel, the Ride Along With Us promo and its Behind-The-Scenes addendum, and the featurettes Kevin & Cube: Brothers-in-Law and Inside Black Hammer Vision.
Digital and Ultraviolet Copies – Instructions for obtaining digital and Ultraviolet copies of the movie are available on an insert in the packaging.
The film and special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish. The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.
Ride Along 2, like its predecessor, is a forgettable comedy that features Kevin Hart in all his over-amped glory. Fans of Hart will no doubt enjoy this movie, but more casual action comedy fans may be taken aback by the stylings here. The Blu-ray presents the movie in solid high definition picture and sound, along with a nice assortment of bonus features. I can’t recommend the movie myself, but I can understand that fans of the movie will certainly enjoy this presentation of it.