Bad Boys: Ride or Die Ending Explained: Did Armando Escape?

Bad Boys: Ride or Die’s ending resolves several lingering plot threads from previous movies and underscores a major theme carried over from the previous entry in the series. The fourth film in the Bad Boys series reunites Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as Mike and Marcus, a pair of Miami police department detectives.

Each of the series’ films has featured absurd action, with the pair dispatching hundreds of nameless criminals over the years. Fifteen years passed between the second and third films, with Bad Boys For Life highlighting how new generations of cops like Vanessa Hudgens’ Kelly and Alexander Ludwig’s Dorn can help them going forward.

1. Bad Boys: Ride Or Die’s Villain Plan & Franchise Retcons Explained

Bad Boys: Ride or Die connects the villains to the antagonists of Bad Boys 2 & Bad Boys For Life.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die quietly revisits two of the previous films in the series, connecting them all through a wide-ranging conspiracy between the drug cartels and the Miami police.

One of the big reveals centers on Lockwood, an attorney, and James McGrath, a US military member.

It turns out that the pair have been part of a conspiracy with the Cartels, allowing for the transport of drugs into Florida in exchange for their assistance in monitoring the border. While technically done to “protect” the nation from terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11, the plan ultimately corrupted the authority in Miami.

The drug trafficking in Bad Boys 2 is revealed to have been part of this conspiracy, as well as Bad Boys For Life’s Isabel Aretas.

Growing suspicious after the events of Bad Boys 2, it turns out Captain Howard spent years looking into the conspiracy, which was the true reason he was put on Isabel’s hit list, leading to his death at the hands of Armando in Bad Boys For Life.

The revelation ties all the films together into an overarching conspiracy that used the power of the police and the military to further the drug trade in Miami. This also makes McGrath and Lockwood two of the Bad Boys franchise’s biggest overarching villains.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die Ending Explained
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys: Ride or Die (2024) | Source: IMDb

2. Why did Mike Let Armando Escape?

Armando was introduced in Bad Boys For Life. The number one assassin working for his mother, Isabel, is Mike’s illegitimate son. At the end of Bad Boys For Life, Armando spares his father and is ultimately arrested for his crimes.

Armando plays a crucial role in Bad Boys: Ride or Die as the only person who can recognize McGrath and help unravel the conspiracy in the Miami PD.

Much of the film’s second act follows Armando as he, Mike, and Marcus race to reach the city and uncover the truth. In the film’s climax, Armando works alongside Mike and his allies in AMMO to bring down McGrath, getting himself severely wounded but surviving the ensuing fight.

Having saved Howard’s granddaughter, Callie, in the process, Armando earns an unexpected reprieve from Callie’s vengeful mother, Judy.

This gives Mike the chance to help Armando escape. Having found common ground and proven Armando is capable of redemption, Mike allows Armando to escape to continue on a more heroic path.

Armando could take charge in future stories, returning to Mike’s life or possibly even carrying out his form of justice elsewhere. Mike’s willingness to let Armando escape speaks to his faith in his son and his chances for redemption.

3. The Meaning Of Marcus’ Visions Explained

Early in Bad Boys: Ride or Die, Marcus has a near-fatal heart attack at Mike’s wedding. This causes the character to see a series of visions that affect him for the rest of the movie, even convincing him he’s become functionally invincible because it’s “not his time yet.”

One of the most important visions focuses on Howard, whom Marcus sees standing next to a tree and a parrot on the beach.

This is when Howard seems to tell Marcus that death hasn’t come for him yet. This serves as a portent for the film’s finale, where Marcus discovers a similar tree and parrot before being caught by McGrath.

Forced to choose between McGrath killing Marcus or his wife Theresa, Mike realizes that Marcus’ belief that he’s unkillable was teasing at that moment. Shooting Marcus non-fatally in his bulletproof vest, Mike can surprise McGrath long enough to shoot the villain multiple times.

Marcus survives the film’s ending but seemingly comes to terms with his mortality again while insulting Mike for his decision to shoot him to save the day.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die Ending Explained
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys: Ride or Die | Source: IMDb

4. How Bad Boys: Ride Or Die Sets Up A Sequel?

Bad Boys: Ride or Die ends on a largely optimistic note for the main characters, with Marcus and Mike reunited with their families safe and sound.

While Mike doesn’t know what’s become of Armando, his role in the film’s climax and their farewell indicates that the character will become a more heroic figure in the future.

A potential sequel could bring back the character and check in on his future endeavors, confirming whether Mike’s hopes for his son are well-founded. For AMMO, the ending of Bad Boys: Ride or Die is a major victory, with Rita and Dorn surviving their brushes with death during the movie’s final stretch.

However, while that conspiracy is resolved, some lingering elements of the Bad Boys world could come up in a sequel. It was already mentioned that Lockwood’s public and romantic association with Rita might make her integrity questionable in future appearances.

Now, the cartel has lost its alliance with Lockwood and McGrath, so there might be a gap that other criminals will inevitably try to fill. In the movie, Mike and Marcus are confronted by their mortality, which might be an element that a sequel would bring forward and force them to reckon with.

6. What is The Real Meaning Of Bad Boys: Ride Or Die

Part and parcel of this is a theme in Bad Boys: Ride or Die regarding legacy and family.

Revealing that Howard had secretly been working on an investigation for a decade and a half before his death, it’s brought to the forefront the dangerous nature of the work. In the film’s three main parent/child relationships, the elder’s willingness to stand by and trust in their child benefits the world.

Mike’s faith in Armando is rewarded by the opportunity to bring down McGrath. Marcus’ son-in-law, Donnie, proves his mettle and saves Marcus’ family, earning some long-overdue respect from Marcus. Callie, stepping in front of Armando, convinces Judy to kill her savior.

Each of these instances sets up a greater good in the long term and proves crucial to salvaging Howard’s legacy and revealing the truth about McGrath.

It builds off similar themes of new generations realizing their potential in Bad Boys For Life, by carrying forward a struggle for the past’s truth alongside future generations, justice is carried out.

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7. About Bad Boys: Ride or Die

Bad Boys: Ride or Die is a 2024 American action comedy film starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the fourth installment of the Bad Boys series of buddy cop films. The sequel to Bad Boys for Life (2020), it is directed by Adil & Bilall and written by Chris Bremner and Will Beall.

Joe Pantoliano, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Núñez, Jacob Scipio, and DJ Khaled reprise their roles from the previous film with Tasha Smith taking over the role of Theresa Burnett from Theresa Randle, who previously played the character in the last three films. New cast members include Eric Dane, Ioan Gruffudd, Rhea Seehorn, Melanie Liburd and Tiffany Haddish. It follows Miami detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett trying to clear the name of their late Captain, Conrad Howard, falsely accused of conspiracy.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die premiered at Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai on May 22, 2024, and was released in the United States on June 7, 2024 by Sony Pictures Releasing.


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