By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)

Kevin Hart pretty much delivers the same performance in all of his films. He portrays a diminutive, squeaky, fast talking cartoon character and it usually fits in okay within his films. I will give him more credit in that as a lead character in Ride Along, much more energy and range is demanded of him, but his style of performance will either grate or entertain audiences. His is a style that  one either hates or enjoys. As for me, I usually find him funny and entertaining, but will acknowledge that it is essentially the same character every time. As for Ice Cube, the other lead in this formulaic and cliché buddy cop movie, he doesn’t really bring anything much different from what he has done before. That pretty much sums up what this movie brings to cinema—nothing new, nothing fresh.

Hart portrays Ben Harper, a hyper, fast talking security guard who dreams of becoming a police officer. Ben, who wants to marry his girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter) will have to win over Angela’s tough, hard-nosed brother James (Ice Cube) in order to win her hand in marriage. James, a police detective, agrees to offer his blessing to their union if Ben can prove himself worthy of protecting his beloved sister. The way Ben can prove himself is if he can show that he has what it takes to become a cop in a ride along with James.  Ben gets more than he anticipates when James inadvertently gets him involved with an ongoing investigation to take down an infamous kingpin known as Omar (Laurence Fishburne).

Though the film does have its funny and entertaining moments, courtesy of Hart, audiences really shouldn’t expect too many surprises with this film.  Directed by Tim Story and written by Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay, and Matt Manfredi, this movie’s plot and story embraces the usual clichés and tropes of buddy cop movies. Even though some of the humor does entertain, the whole affair plays out predictably.

As I said before, I will give Hart some credit for putting much energy and passion into his performance. He really is a little ball of energy and is actually exciting to watch. The comic does have the gift of improvisation, but much like other comic actors like Vince Vaughan, this limited range will  get one only so far in Hollywood. Just like Vaughan, this routine will wear out its welcome rather quickly.

Regarding the remainder of the cast, everyone performs adequately without any real standouts of the positive or negative varieties. Ice Cube plays a believable tough and streetwise detective.  Fishburne makes for a menacing villain and Bruce McGill nails his role as the grouchy and tough police superior. The rest of the cast is fine, but not particularly memorable.

I’m thinking that this film will be just as forgettable.  If Kevin Hart wishes to have a lasting career in movies, he needs to show much more range than he already has. That probably is asking a lot of him, and he will probably milk his high pitched, motor mouthed character until it no longer pays the bills.  The actual length of his career will all depend on how long people are willing to pay money for his comic routine.

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