‘Bad Boys: Ride Or Die’ Ending Explained & Movie Recap: What Happened To Armando?

In recent years, a number of yesteryear’s franchises have been revitalized as sequels or prequels, and many of them couldn’t measure up to the present pop culture showbiz. However, Bad Boys, the buddy cop comedy franchise created by Michael Bay in the mid-90s, is an exception, as the series made a roaring comeback in 2020 with its third installment, Bad Boys for Life. With equal parts heart, humor, drama, and action, the movie opened up a way to take the franchise in a new direction, even with or without the lead detective duo played by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. 


The direct sequel to the movie and the overall fourth entry in the series, Bad Boys: Ride or Die, is a comparatively milder, more cautious, and more topical entry, which, although having a decent enough plotline as its backbone, falls short in the action and humor department. However, playing within its limitations and having some good character moments, the movie overall is a fun watch, which justifies its two-hour runtime.

Spoilers Ahead


Who Framed Late Captain Howard, and Why?

There are key plot elements from Bad Boys for Life that end up building the core of the narrative for Bad Boys: Ride or Die, which is highlighted from the very beginning of the movie. The movie opens with the Bad Boys blitzing through the streets, similar to how the previous movie began as well. The high-profile detective duo of Miami PD, Mike and Marcus, are having the time of their lives—or at least Mike is, as he has decided to settle down in life by marrying his physiotherapist, Christine. Gluttonous tendencies and poor hygiene haven’t bode well for Marcus, but he is not someone to let go of old habits. On the day of Mike’s wedding the duo tackle a shop hold-up situation, which marks the return of the Bad Boys in style. We also learn that Mike’s old flame, Miami PD Captain Rita, is in a relationship with mayoral candidate Adam Lockwood. The department still mourns the loss of the late Captain Conrad Howard, who was assassinated during the events of Bad Boys for Life by the now captive Armando Aretas, Mike’s son with cartel kingpin Isabel Aretas. Viewers also meet Conrad’s daughter, Judy, a U.S. Marshal, and her daughter, Callie, both of whom have as strong a bond with Mike and Marcus as the late Captain did. 

Trouble follows soon enough, as on the same day, Marcus suffers a cardiac arrest and goes through a near-death experience when he sees a vision of Captain Howard. However, in a somewhat comedic, somewhat ambiguous way, this gives him a new perspective on life and a newfound confidence. Marcus also shares his fear about an impending danger, which Captain Howard’s vision had suggested to him. 


Viewers learn that Marcus’ suspicion has indeed proven true as a rogue special forces chief, and former DEA officer James McGrath, who is working deep with the cartel along with his group of mercenaries, starts framing late Captain Howard by channeling cartel money into his account. McGrath’s involvement with the cartel was discovered by Conrad nine years ago, and he was gathering evidence to pin him down; unfortunately, his untimely death buried the investigation. After the news of Conrad having a connection with the cartel breaks out, Miami PD’s integrity is put to question as the FBI gets involved in the investigation as well. Mike and Marcus are adamant about their belief in Conrad’s innocence, and they begin investigating on their own to clear the Captain’s name. Mike suggests taking the help of his son, Armando, as his connection with Carl could reveal the truth about Conrad’s involvement, and Judy fairly warns him to keep Armando off the streets or else she will have her revenge for her father’s death. 

How Did Armando Help The Bad Boys Identify McGrath?

On the other hand, as McGrath’s team tries to hack into Conrad’s personal computer to delete evidence pertaining to their involvement, an automated message gets sent to Mike and Marcus – in a pre-recorded video, Conrad warns the duo about having Mole in the department. The video directs them to Fletcher, the hacker from the first two Bad Boys movies, whom Conrad had given a chance to turn his life around—and it turns out Fletcher’s art gallery has a major clue to the investigation. However, as the detective tries to pry the information out of Fletcher, McGrath’s men, who were following them, kill Fletcher, and a shootout ensues. Eventually, Fletcher’s men flee, and Miami PD AMMO team associates Dorn and Kelly manage to uncover a hidden QR code that reveals the entirety of ten years worth of investigation data. In order to identify potential cartel members from the investigation, Mike and Marcus decide to speak with Armando, who reveals that Captain Conrad Howard was indeed innocent and was put on his hit list by an outsider whom he can identify. However, later, McGrath orchestrates an attack on Armando in prison to eliminate any risk of exposure and a brutal fight ensues inside prison, which will remind “Arrow” fans of Oliver Quinn’s iconic prison brawl with weights. 


To protect Armando, Mike and Marcus request help from Lockwood as he arranges the means to transfer him to Miami. However, once again, McGrath sets up all three of them and causes the transfer chopper to crash—not before forcing the pilot to frame Mike and Marcus as dirty cops, making it seem that they were trying to break Armando out. With Armando’s help, Mike and Marcus survive the crash, and after initial disagreements, they decide to work together to safely return to Miami. However, McGrath’s tactics with the concocted message not only set the authorities and a vengeful Judy Howard hunting for the trio, but also put a hefty bounty on the trio, which the criminal gangs of Miami get desperate to score. Now practically fugitives, as the trio venture through the wilderness to get back to the city, on Marcus’ suggestion, Mike takes the chance to reconcile with his son. After all, it was his abandonment that led Isabel to go down a destructive path, and Armando had a rough upbringing and made questionable life choices later on. Armando reassures him by stating his decisions have nothing to do with Mike’s involvement, and the father-son duo patch-up attempt abruptly ends. 

After reaching Miami, the trio finds notorious gangs, including Manny the Butcher’s (DJ Khaled), on their trail, along with Judy and the PD as well, and somehow, after heavy shootouts, burning van chases, and mad evasion, they manage to escape safely for the time being. The trio reaches out to Dorn and Kelly, and after going through an extensive amount of investigation data gathered by Conrad, Armando manages to identify McGrath. Mike informs Rita about this as he prepares to bring the investigation intel the next day to the PD, which will expose McGrath as the culprit and clear Captain Conrad of the false charges. However, McGrath learns about this and sends his hit squad to kill Mike’s and Marcus’ family. Through Dorn’s tech rig, surveillance of both their homes was accessed, which allowed Marcus to warn his son-in-law, U.S. Marine Master Sergeant Reggie McDonald, about the impending attack, and he swiftly eliminated all the invading mercs. However, at Mike’s home, Callie had arrived to speak with Christine, and both of them got abducted by McGrath’s men. 


Mike realizes that, as Conrad had mentioned, a mole in their department has been leaking information since the beginning, which helped McGrath remain a step ahead of them all the time. He had shared the information of the investigation with the only person he trusts in the force (aside from Dorn and Kelly), Captain Rita Secada, and with her loyalty being unquestionable, it became quite clear that her boyfriend, mayoral candidate Lockwood, was McGrath’s secret informant. As Mike informs Rita about this, she confronts Lockwood, which leads to a brutal elevator fight, and a timely intervention by Dorne and Kelly results in Lockwood’s capture. Lockwood shares a shocking revelation: that the authorities were lenient in letting cartels operate in exchange for information on terrorist organizations. He tries to justify his actions, stating it was a roundabout way to keep the nation safe, even though it meant unrestrained drug trafficking in exchange. 

What Happened to Armando At The End?

A desperate McGrath calls Mike to threaten him with the lives of Christine and Callie and offers their freedom in exchange for handing over Armando to him. Needless to say, Mike doesn’t entertain such an idea, he chalks up a plan to set up McGrath in his own way by faking Lockwood’s voice using a modulator and arranging a meeting to take the hostages to Cuba. Planning thoroughly, Mike, Marcus, Dorne, Kelly, and Rita prepare to take down McGrath once and for all, and Armando, seeking to mend his ways, decides to help his father as well. 


As planned, Bad Boys and co. surround McGrath’s Lair, a former alligator amusement park in Florida Keys, and engage in a fierce gunfight. Lockwood tries to flee in a plane, which is brought down by Rita, who eventually kicks him into the water to turn him into gator-lunch. As McGrath takes Christine away, Mike chases him while asking Armando to save Callie, who is being taken elsewhere by McGrath’s mercs. In a display of courage and honor, Armando defends Callie from an oncoming horde of mercenaries while getting severely injured and takes her to safety. By saving the dear one of the people he had killed, Armando somewhat redeems himself. On the other hand, McGrath tries one final trick by taking both Marcus and Christine as hostages, and Mike handles the situation by shooting Marcus in his bulletproof vest to open up his scope and riddling McGrath with a bullet upon getting the chance. 

In Bad Boys: Ride or Die‘s ending, Judy Howard enters the scene and tries to kill Armando, as she is too driven by vengeance to consider otherwise. Callie tries to stop her mother as she reveals Armando was his savior, and Mike arrives in time to plead mercy for his son. Finally, Judy lets go of her rage, decides to spare Armando’s life, and allows him to escape as well. Armando takes his leave, and Mike’s relationship with his son seems to have improved as he praises Armando for saving Callie’s life. In the aftermath, Mike, Marcus, and Captain Howard are cleared of all charges as the news regarding Lockwood-McGrath’s partnership with Carl is revealed.


Bad Boys: Ride or Die ends with Mike’s and Marcus’ family, along with AMMO associates, enjoying a barbecue session while Mike and Marcus engage in a funny banter with Reggie. There is ample scope to take the franchise forward, as Armando has proven himself to be a worthy enough lead in the course of two movies. Reggie, a minor breakout character in this movie, can add to the comedic element as well, and there is an off chance of a series or movie being made with the established members of Miami PD in the Bad Boys franchise as well. We will have to wait for any form of continuation, as the success of this entry can ensure any such chances in the future. 

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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