Archive for January 15, 2014

Ride Along – Review

Posted: January 15, 2014 by MichaelSmithNC in All, Movie Review, Movies
Tags: , , , ,


Ride Along

Rated PG-13

for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language

A high school security guard, who is addicted to video games, in Atlanta, GA has two goals in life; marry the woman of his dreams and become a cop. There is one obstacle that stands in the way of both goals coming to pass; his lady’s imposing cop brother. Ride Along is an action comedy starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube that is equal parts Training Day and Kevin Hart stand-up.

Right from the start you realize that this movie is all about being entertaining with little regard placed on being award worthy in any category. The two main characters, loner badass cop, James Payton (Ice Cube) and wise-cracking school security guard, Ben Barber (Kevin Hart), are total opposites and over-the-top in their own unique ways. They remind me of the characters from the old 48 Hours movies played by Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte.

James decides to take his soon to be brother –in-law out for a ride along that will also serve as Ben’s “training day.” Ben has to prove his worthiness of being a cop and marrying James’s sister Angela. The movie unfolds as a series of “126 in Progress” calls that Ben is tasked with handing to see if he can make the cut. The circumstances that he is placed in and the consequences of their actions are hilarious almost to the point of being totally ridiculous.

The potential comedic chemistry between Ice Cube and Kevin Hart was a point of concern for me going in. After seeing the first on-screen interaction between the two, those concerns were quickly put to rest as they “clicked” right away. Ice Cube and Hart were a truly dynamic pairing when it comes to gaining a laugh. Kevin Hart played up his short stature and addiction to video games for several good laughs. Ice Cube worked as the straight-man for most of the movie, but also got to interject some of his own comedic and note-worthy lines. I even had a Gangsta Rap geek-out moment when Ice Cube delivered his famous lyric “Today Was a Good Day” after a particularly funny scene.

The movie is funny, but don’t go into this looking for any type of dynamic story or surprise twists to go along with the funny; it is VERY predictable. When the director, writers and producers of the movie were creating the story I’m sure the creative process went a little like this:

Producer: “I haven’t seen a funny buddy cop movie in a while.”

Writer: “Me either, wanna make one?”

Director: “I really liked training day and LOVE that short little black man… What’s his name, Kevin Hart?”

Writer: “Make Training Day funny? Use Kevin Hart to do it?  PSSHHT!! That’s easy!!!”

Producer: “Let me write you a check…”

Despite the simplistic story, I do recommend seeing the movie if you are in the mood for a few good laughs AND are a fan of Kevin Hart. If you find Kevin Hart even a little annoying, he is in full force in this one. Consider yourself warned.

Similar Viewing:

Training Day, 48 Hours, Another 48 Hours



Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Rated R

for sequences of violence and intense action, and brief strong language

Back in 1990 the movie world was introduced to novelist Tom Clancy’s character John Patrick “Jack” Ryan in the hit The Hunt for Red October. The movie was the first of Clancy’s novels to be adapted to film. Alec Baldwin is the first actor to get the opportunity to play the role on the big screen. Jack had to convince the Navy that Russian Submarine Captain Marko Ramius, played by Sean Connery, was trying to defect to prevent a war from breaking out. The movie was such a success in the box office, a sequel was ordered.

Now it is 1992 and Jack Ryan is back, this time Harrison Ford is the guy tabbed to play the role of a now retired Ryan. Patriot Games is the novel that was selected to be adapted. Jack is on vacation in London when he happens to be in the right place at the right time to intervene in an assassination attempt on a British Government Minister. Afterwards, he and has to deal with the revenge of the assassins for foiling their plot. Yet again, we have a box office success and another sequel ordered.

In an effort to keep milking this cash cow, Harrison Ford is brought back to play Ryan in the 1994 Clear and Present Danger. Now, Jack Ryan is the Deputy Director of the CIA tasked with stopping a Columbian drug cartel. As no surprise, the movie is another box office success for the character but this time no sequel is put in motion.

It is eight years before we are to be given another Jack Ryan movie. In 2002 Ben Affleck is given the role as Ryan in The Sum of All Fears. This time the movie steps out of the continuity that was in place with the previous three movies with Ryan back to being a lowly analyst in the CIA. He must stop a nuclear showdown with the Russians while simultaneously trying to stop a terrorist from blowing up a major US city. The movie was released a little after the attacks of September 11, 2001. This time, we do not have the major box office success or the acclaim of the previous installments.

That little history lesson was to set the tone for my expectations for this new installment in the Jack Ryan franchise. I enjoyed The Hunt for Red October, because of Connery, Baldwin was okay at best. I liked Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger because of Harrison Ford. I HATED The Sum of All Fears because of what Affleck did to the character that I loved. All that being said, I went into the screening of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit thinking, “How bad is Chris Pine going to mess Jack Ryan up?”

Shadow Recruit is a reboot of the franchise, chronologically speaking. We are taken back to September 11, 2001 in London, England where a young John P Ryan is working on his PhD. After the horrific events of that day, Jack joins the Marines and volunteers for combat duty in Afghanistan. While serving he is severely wounded and forced out of the Marines. During his recovery from his injuries he is recruited by the CIA, sent back to school to finish his PhD and put in play as an undercover analyst tracking the financials of threats to the United States.

As for the villain and threat that Jack is trying to stop, it is something very real, very up-to-date and something that is possible at any given time in the real world. Not to give up any details, but it is not your run of the mill terrorist bomb plot. The individual villain, Viktor Cherevin, is played by Kenneth Branagh. He is a credible villain but not your typical “bad guy”, you get the impression that he is really just a misguided patriot.

Chris Pine as Jack Ryan… Not bad at all.  My fears were unfounded as Pine and the filmmakers did not turn the character into another James Bond or Jason Bourne. He was the scared, over his head, yet supremely intelligent guy that Jack Ryan is supposed to be. In one scene; the look of shock, awe and horror that are on Pine’s face say more about the mindset of the character than 30 minutes of dialogue by Affleck in The Sum of All Fears. Pine does a wonderful job getting the point across that Ryan has absolutely ZERO desire to be on the operational side of things with the CIA.

As with any movie in this genre, there are going to be aspects of the story that are a little too much. The scenes with Keira Knightley playing Cathy Muller, she hasn’t married Jack yet, are just too sappy. I just rolled my eyes at the way the two were portrayed as a couple. Also, the American accent that Keira was attempting was just so awkward, thankfully, her dialogue was limited

Do I recommend it? Yes. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has a good plot, unique story, decent acting and minimal annoyances. It is worth your time and money to go check it out.

Similar Viewing:

The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of All Fears