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Bad Company (12)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: In Bad Company: An Inside Look.

THE old mis-matched partnership routine is given another tired re-working in this by-the-numbers action flick from the Jerry Bruckheimer stable.

Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock star as the mis-matched duo in question, this time pitting their wits against two groups of Eastern European terrorists bidding to bring a nuclear bomb to America. Yet try as they might, the stars lack the necessary chemistry or direction to elevate this dumb thriller above the mediocre, making this an instantly forgettable movie experience.

Given that this is a Bruckheimer production, however, viewers have every reason to expect the usual high-octane show of pyrotechnics, but even these lack much spark, with Joel Schumacher’s direction failing to strike the right balance between the comedy and the thrills.

Hopkins stars as veteran CIA agent Gaylord (!) Oakes, who must transform Rock’s sarcastic, street-wise punk, Jake Hayes, into a sophisticated spy to replace his murdered identical twin brother, Kevin Pope (also Rock), in order to complete the purchase of a nuclear bomb and thus save the ‘free world’.

Yet while the two initially get off on the wrong foot, a begrudging respect develops between them, with Oakes forced to come to terms with his role in the death of Pope, and Oakes finally being forced to live up to his untapped potential (he is great at chess).

Bad Company strives very hard to recapture the type of successful Box Office formula displayed in action flicks such as Enemy of the State and Lethal Weapon (that of the older charge taking on a younger, more reckless partner) without ever really coming close. Rock lacks the emotional gravitas of a Will Smith or Danny Glover, while his stand-up routine is frequently tiresome, leaving Hopkins to pick up the pieces. Sadly, he doesn’t look interested, turning in the type of performance he could prepare for in his sleep.

In fact, the best person in it is Gabriel Macht, as Oakes's right-hand man, who handles most of the action sequences, while exuding the type of charisma usually reserved for the leading man. He deserves his own movie, but is sadly wasted at every opportunity.

Worse still, the film looks and feels like it has ripped-off better movies, most of them Bruckheimer productions, as well as the likes of The Peacemaker (particularly during its New York-based, race-against-time climax).

Schumacher’s direction also feels thrown together at times, allowing very little time for any character development or, worse, tension or excitement. Scenes have the habit of ending very suddenly, creating a jarring effect to the flow.

The director is one of those Jekyll and Hyde types, who can produce work of the quality Falling Down and Tigerland one minute, or Dying Young and Batman and Robin the next. His collaboration with Bruckheimer falls into the latter category, so it remains to be seen what type of treatment the partnership will give to the forthcoming Veronica Guerin, the true story of the Dublin journalist who was assassinated while reporting on Irish organised crime.

Ironically, it is Hopkins’ on-screen character who sums up Bad Company best, for when hearing about the CIA’s plan to recruit and train Rock to save the world, he merely sighs and mutters… ‘this smacks of desperation’. He’s not wrong.

 

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