You've got to love the purity of the sequelling that's happening in Ride Along 2, which re-teams director Tim Story with ubiquitous comic imp Kevin Hart and suitably glowering Ice Cube (who has perhaps concluded that the best way to fuck tha police is to portray them as slapstick clowns). What people loved about the hugely successful Ride Along, at the time the biggest wide release in January history, was the interplay between the manic Ben Barber (Hart) and the snarling James Payton (Ice Cube) as, respectively, a wannabe cop and his temporary partner, a whip-smart Atlanta detective, already feuding on account of Ben's romantic relationship with James's sister. So why not just re-run all of that, even if Ride Along resolved pretty much every one of those points? No reason the sequel couldn't just rush to fill the gap before Ben and Angela (Tika Sumpter) got married, and while Ben was still a probationary newbie.

No reason at all, except that Ride Along 2 thus comes across with a powerfully musty, stale smell, a patent sense that we haven't seen "basically" this - we've seen exactly this. For all that we might like to complain about the omnipresence of unimaginative sequels, such a beat-for-beat retread is actually rare; this is how they used to do sequels in the '80s, like, and given that the Ride Alongs are transparent riffs on the action-comedy buddy cop pictures of that decade, I have to admit that it generally fits. It doesn't make it any more exciting to watch, particularly since the first movie was already more vaguely amusing than particularly great or memorable.

Still, that film wasn't without its pleasures, and the sequel at least manages to avoid fucking them up: Hart and Ice Cube still have terrific chemistry, with Hart in particular working better with this particular scene partner than he has with anybody else in his well-stuffed career. And for his part, Ice Cube is actually quite a bit looser and more prone to smiling and poking at the character, who this time gets the most vestigial shape of a romantic plotline in the form of a tough-as-nails Miami cop played by Olivia Munn. Leftovers or not, it reheats well (there's a deliberately bad joke on "brothers-in-law" that, bad person as I am, made me giggle out loud every time it came up).

It's still a wholly generic and predictable cop movie, not just in its plot but down to the tiniest details of its aesthetic - with Ben and James having to trek down to Miami this time around, the filmmakers are so free of shame as to throw Gloria Estefan's 31-year-old "Conga" on the soundtrack, which is such a colossally unacceptable decision that I actually admire the hell out of them for doing it. Actually, I think I could have saved myself some time writing if I'd frontloaded that: Ride Along 2 is a Kevin Hart movie set in Miami, with "Conga" on the soundtrack. You now know everything.