Monkeys Fighting Robots

Anyone who has ever used a ride-sharing app has probably questioned its safety. That is precisely the idea upon which the new film Ride is based.

The movie is about James (Jessie T. Usher, Independence Day: Resurgence), a driver whose night goes awry when he picks up the alluring Jessica (Bella Thorne, Midnight Sun) and the charming, yet manipulative Bruno (Will Brill, Slice).

The film is short, clocking in at less than an hour and twenty minutes. The story is very briskly-paced and to-the-point, economically delivering its thrills. Because of this, the movie never overstays its welcome and will quickly capture the attention of its younger target audience.

Monkeys Fighting Robots Youtube

Unfortunately, the film ultimately feels disjointed. It is almost as if there are two separate movies in one. The first half of the film is practically a comedy, the characters exchanging playful banter and getting into hijinks. The transition into the thriller teased by the synopsis is abrupt and unsatisfying.

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(L-R) Bella Thorne as Jessica and Jessie T. Usher as James in the thriller “RIDE,” an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of Rob C. Givens.

The first act is quite enjoyable. The characters are charming and likable, and the dialogue is solid enough. The second act, on the other hand, isn’t as successful. The changes in the characters were unjustified and far too sudden. The situation in which these characters found themselves in wasn’t believable. Additionally, the pacing in this section felt rushed. Even though the short runtime is ultimately to its advantage, the film could have added ten more good minutes at the climax and still been fine.

The movie also has a message about trust. It even markets itself as a cautionary tale. However, this message is lost in the shuffle, as the movie settles on fleeting references to the moral, opting instead to go for blind thrills. Much of the film’s mystery is unresolved, too. There is a brief news clip and a short monologue about the antagonist’s justification, but this is insufficient.

The cinematography and editing of the movie are both solid. The film’s visual style is sleek and modern, which works well given the movie’s thematic focus. Some very interesting editing techniques were used, particularly in the first half of the film, making it flow even better.

ride bella thorne gunpoint
Bella Thorne as Jessica in the thriller “RIDE,” an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of Rob C. Givens.

There were quite a few issues with the sound quality, though. The score is electronic-based. Though it fits the film nicely, it is very bass-heavy. As a result, there was a lot of reverberation with the sound. The dialogue also lacks clarity or has reverb at times.

The actors have great chemistry together, but the performances individually are nothing special. The best parts of the film are when any two of the three main characters are interacting together. The actors bounce lines off of each other well. Thorne is likable but had a hard time hitting the emotional beats. She often went too over-the-top. On the other hand, Usher is a little too subtle. It seems like he should be showing more emotion. Brill’s performance is the best of the three. He does an excellent job of capturing the character’s charm and mysteriousness.

Overall, Ride gets off to a strong start but falters towards the end. At the very least, it’s an amusing watch. Perhaps the film would have been better if the thriller elements would have been left out entirely.

Ride opens in theaters and is available on VOD October 5.

Technical Merit
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film; however, he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.
review-think-twice-before-taking-this-ride<i>Ride</i> has an intriguing premise, and a solid first half, but begins to run out of fuel towards the end. It's amusing enough for a watch on Netflix or another streaming service, but not much else.