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Will Smith’s ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ Slap Could Be the Key to Reviving His Career

Key Points:

  • Will Smith’s ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die‘ Slyly Addresses the Oscars Slap Incident
  • The new ‘Bad Boys’ movie has a meta scene poking fun at Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars
  • It’s Smith’s first major attempt at reviving his blockbuster career after the controversial incident severely damaged his reputation
  • The scene could act as “pop exorcism” for Smith to move past the slap, but some critics see it as “tasteless” and for image rehab

In the climactic third act of “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” Will Smith’s character Mike Lowery suffers a panic attack amid a final shootout. His partner Marcus Burnett, played by Martin Lawrence, repeatedly slaps him to snap him back to his “bad boy” self. It’s a cheeky meta-reference to Smith infamously slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards.

‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ Addresses Will Smith’s Oscars Slap Head-On

BAD BOYS_ RIDE OR DIE
BAD BOYS_ RIDE OR DIE

According to Variety, the scene from the fourth installment of the blockbuster buddy cop franchise is Smith’s first major attempt at addressing and moving past the controversy that severely tarnished his reputation. His positive Q Score, measuring likability, plummeted from 39 to 19 after the slap incident.

Some critics see the “Bad Boys” scene as a clever “pop exorcism” allowing Smith to symbolically atone for his transgression. However, others found it a “tasteless” and “self-aggrandizing inversion” serving as blatant image rehabilitation for Smith.

READ MORE: Celebrity Documentaries Like Taylor Swift’s and Selena Gomez’s Address Mental Health Issues

Will the Oscars Slap Joke Help Revive Will Smith’s Blockbuster Career?

Will Smith in BAD BOYS_ RIDE OR DIE
Will Smith in BAD BOYS_ RIDE OR DIE

Beyond addressing the slap, the fate of “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” will be a major test of whether audiences are ready to embrace Smith as a blockbuster draw again. Prior to the incident, he was one of the most bankable movie stars with an incredible run of 8 consecutive $100 million-plus grossing films.

The movie is tracking for a $30-50 million opening weekend, decent but well below the $62 million launch of “Bad Boys for Life” in 2020. Smith has gone all-out promoting the film with a global press tour hitting Dubai, Berlin, Mexico City and more.

READ MORE: The Boys’ Season 4: Potential Exploration of a Supes’ True Power After 3 Seasons of Nerfing

In interviews, he has avoided directly addressing the slap, instead letting the meta scene speak for itself as his public acknowledgment of the incident that may make or break his future box office prospects.

“Bad Boys: Ride or Die” hits theaters on June 23rd, 2024.

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