15 – 102mins – 2017
COPY AND WASTE
Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake of the Japanese supernatural horror classic Ringu (1998) kick-started a Western surge in popularity for “J-horror” and established lank-haired, TV-emerging Samara as an icon of the genre. That it has taken 12 years since 2005 follow-up The Ring Two to continue the Hollywood-ified franchise is surprising, particularly as interest seemed to remain at least temperate, but Rings’ disappointing box office gross is testament to the rule that no matter how long you take to “perfect” a sequel, sometimes they just aren’t required.
… Keep Scuttling!
12 – 97mins – 2016
“Do you ever listen to the shit that flies out of your mouth?”
Exceeding expectations in much the same manner as its lead character did, 2014’s buddy cop comedy Ride Along was so popular a sequel was inevitable. But how could they continue to bring the bantz now that straight shootin’ “expert on bullshit” Detective James Payton (Ice Cube) has mellowed to his irritating tag-along sidekick Ben Barber’s (Kevin Hart) verbal diarrhea and wised up to his worth?
The answer is to reset this fast-tracked sequel back to the status quo, with James relegating recently-graduated police rookie Ben’s assistance at the climax of the first film to “beginner’s luck.” With Ben’s marriage to James’ sister, Ang (Tika Sumpter), less than a week away, James is still determined to humiliate and undermine the videogame fan who calls himself “Black Hammer,” believing if he allows the try-hard trouble-magnet to accompany him on a case that takes them from Atlanta to Miami, Ben’s dream of becoming a detective will be dashed.
“Why does nobody want to show me respect?!”
From thereon in it’s business as usual in this repeat-quel which does little to upset the prizewinning applecart in bringing more shoot outs, car chases, stakeouts and party-crashing courtesy of the “blentlemen” with the badges, who are accompanied by Miami PD’s thin-lipped Maya Cruz (Olivia Munn) and self-proclaimed “cyber dark-arts God” A.J. (Community goofball Ken Jeong yet again playing to type) in bringing down a villainous drug ring lead by Benjamin Bratt’s cookie-cutter crime lord.
Like a hyperactive cross between The Hangover and Hot Fuzz, Ride Along 2 really shouldn’t work as well as it does. Aside from a freeway car chase reimagined as a pixelated, GTA-style videogame (the farce and the furious!), this is nothing we haven’t seen a thousand times before, and yet I still found myself enjoying the Ride.
Ice Cube’s seasoned peer isn’t as hard-nosed as you’re meant to believe, while grounded motor-mouth Ben really shouldn’t be given as many chances at redemption as he is granted, but watch with beer and mates and Ride Along 2’s lazy plot rehash, clichéd genre tropes, irritating characterisation and minor flaws really do pale in comparison to the laughs it shoots out like a never-ending round of target-homing bullets.