Mark Reviews Movies

BAD COMPANY (2002)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Joel Schumacher

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Chris Rock, Gabriel Macht, Peter Stormare, Kerry Washington, Brooke Smith

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violent action, some sensuality and language)

Running Time: 1:56

Release Date: 6/7/02


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Review by Mark Dujsik

Bad Company scores no points for originality, wit, or intelligence. It’s a cookie-cutter movie, a cut-and-paste job—made of the recycled components of years, possibly decades, of action movie clichés. It’s produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s essentially got these kinds of movies down to a formula. Take one seasoned, highly respected actor and cast him as the veteran in whatever field (hopefully something with guns). Take one up-and-coming personality (most likely with a comedic flare) and cast him as the rookie. Place them together in a situation that places the security of many on the line. Listen as the mismatched twosome exchange witty verbal barbs. Watch as the veteran shows the rookie the ropes and the rookie shows the veteran something special about life. Throw in a chase scene here, a shoot-out there, top it off with one big, anticlimactic countdown to destruction stopped at the last second, and you’ve got yourself a blockbuster—not equating to quality.

In this case, Anthony Hopkins plays the veteran. He’s CIA agent Oaks, quite possibly the most lackadaisical government agent ever to get top billing. The rookie is Chris Rock playing identical twins (a plot setup that cries, "We’re out of ideas!") Jake Hayes and Kevin Pope, who I differentiate in my notes as "alive" and "dead." Pope is a top CIA agent working to infiltrate a multinational terrorist group and buy a nuclear bomb from them. The idea, apparently, is to take the bomb and disarm it, because I’m sure a group that can obtain one portable nuclear explosive device can’t come across another. It all goes bad when a rival multinational terrorist group (a development that reminds me of the bad-guy storm chasers in Twister) kills Pope only nine days before the final deal is about to go down, ruining all chances of taking hold of the bomb. Or does it? Cut to Hayes, a street-smart, chess playing hustler whose life ambitions don’t meld with his girlfriend Julie’s (Kerry Washington), who’s decided to move to Seattle. Enter Oaks with an offer for Hayes: impersonate your deceased twin for nine days and receive $50,000.

Is this necessarily the most intelligent route to completing this mission? I wouldn’t think so, but the exposition is brisk leaving no time to dwell upon it. At CIA headquarters, Hayes undergoes intensive training to look, sound, and act like his brother. This sequence is also rushed, and it never seems as though the training sticks. Once out in the field, the movie continues its course on autopilot with a series of action sequences. They rely on the ineptitude and general stupidity of the agents, because otherwise, they wouldn’t be as prolonged as they are. Fortunately for the world, the terrorist group is equally dumb. In one scene, an assassin enters Hayes’ hotel room, and Hayes heads out the window—the single worst place to go. Hayes must like to put himself in situations where he has the possibility of falling to his death, because later he hides in a laundry chute. His backup is always monitoring him, but they seem to notice a sneak attack just a few seconds late each and every time (eventually leading to the movie’s most awkward line, "It’s a bloodbath, sir"). And they’re awful shots, too. The clichés abound, and the movie actually has the chutzpah to use the infamous "red digital readout" in the finale.

The formula depends for the most part on the chemistry of the leads, and while the teaming of Hopkins and Rock seems odd, the two of them may have made an intriguing team in a different movie. The movie is a testament to Hopkins’ abilities. Even while sleepwalking through this performance, he still has a tremendous screen presence. Rock has a lot of energy to give, and his shtick is occasionally funny. When it isn’t, consider it the result of bad screenwriting, which insists that the funnyman make amusing comments through any situation, or simply trying too hard. The two have some good moments together, but nothing to make the association anything more than a script concoction or distinguish this coupling from the countless others that have come before it.

I could easily be driven to animosity toward Bad Company for many reasons, but honestly, it isn’t worth the energy. The movie isn’t inept, simply typical, and a few sequences garner some mild thrills despite the obvious and ever-present machinations of the screenplay. Director Joel Schumacher has the thankless job of playing the typical Hollywood action director—absent of any distinct visual or pacing style and simply molding to the conventions of the always moving camera, always quick-cut editing. So many movies make you think that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. This is one of those movies.

Copyright © 2002 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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