Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:57 - Released 6/7/02

From Jerry Bruckheimer Films comes Joel Schumacher's Bad Company, a film which, in name and content, vigorously lives up to its production company's increasing reputation for dumbed-down action flicks. Pairing accomplished thespian Anthony Hopkins with in-your-face comedian Chris Rock may have seemed an ingenious idea at first (and may prove so, if only for the purpose of selling tickets), but these actors can't compensate for the poor quality of the screenplay by Jason Richman and Michael Browning, based on the marginally plausible story by Gary Goodman and David Himmelstein, and they know it. Rock is trying too hard, and Hopkins isn't trying at all. Moreover, the film seems interminable, with Schumacher passing numerous exits on the cinematic highway that would lead to an ending, forging proudly on through scene after scene of shooting, screaming, and blowing up, until we feel we have been sitting through an eight-hour Bruckheimer Productions showcase reel rather than a simple buddy action film.

The premise is thus: Harvard educated CIA agent Kevin Pope (Rock, trying desperately to look suave and refined) is killed during a crucial operation in Prague to purchase a bomb on the black market from a nasty profiteer named Adrik Vas (Peter Stormare), mainly for the purpose of keeping it out of the hands of a nasty terrorist (Adoni Maropis) who wants to blow up as many Americans as possible. Kevin's partner, veteran agent Gaylord Oakes (Hopkins, trying desperately to look awake), knows the deal can't go through without Kevin, so it is conveniently discovered that the slain agent had a long-lost, unknown brother named Jake Hayes (Rock, seeming much more like himself). Jake is a street hustler from Jersey who makes a meager living scalping tickets to sports events and beating people at chess. So Oakes and his fellow agents (Gabriel Macht, Brooke Smith, and a few others) offer Jake $100,000 to help them with this mission by masquerading as his dead brother. Although Jake is no hero, he takes the job mainly for the money, to win back the affections of his girlfriend (Kerry Washington) who has just dumped him for being poor. So begins the hilarious (not) training procedure, where Jake is taught to act, think, and live like his fabulously wealthy brother, followed by the thrilling (not) action segment where the CIA and their newly hired agent dodge bullets while trying to save mankind.

Rock is obviously trying for an Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours kind of approach, with a simple brother from the projects participating valiantly in a dangerous and noble assignment while making all sorts of wisecracks about how he's not used to this sort of thing. But the problem is, Rock is a comedian first and an actor second, so he delivers his lines not so much like a person talking, but like...a comedian delivering lines. He seems uncomfortable after each joke (when there's no applause), and equally uneasy during the serious lines (when there's no joke). That is, when he's not screaming like a little girl. Meanwhile, Hopkins is so clearly aware that he's above this project, he's putting in time with the enthusiasm of a college English professor forced to teach a 3rd grade reading class. He's overqualified, he's bored, and he knows it. To this uncomfortable pairing is added a multitudinous cast of supporting players, at least three villains, and numerous requisite Bruckheimer action sequences intended to divert our attention away from the obvious lack of script and acting with bright, flashy colors and loud noises. Oh, Jerry—you've done it again. **½

Copyright 2002 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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