Street wise layabout and chess hustler Jake Hayes (Chris Rock) is reluctantly recruited by the CIA’s Oakes (Anthony Hopkins) to stand in for Jake’s late twin brother Kevin (Chris Rock), after Kevin is killed in action on a mission to nab nuclear weapon-trading terrorists in Prague. Oakes has just nine days to turn the rap-loving Jake into a passable imitation of his refined, educated and highly intelligent twin. And get away with it during the most dangerous sting in the history, with a portable nuclear bomb to be salvaged.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Chris Rock plays the story’s pivotal character and comedy focus, but it is Anthony Hopkins who is the real rock in this movie, a spot of calm amidst the chaos, the Chris and the cacophonous rap soundtrack. Bad Company mixes a couple of different genres, from comic thriller to dramatic thriller with a touch of ticking clock drama thrown in, and doesn’t quite pull any of them off. Hopkins plays straight man to Rock’s stand up comic in search of a good line in tense situations, but we can’t really get our rocks off on the material even when it has all the signs of a good laugh coming. Rock’s persona fuses the wires on this heavy vehicle and crunches the gears, too. At least Peter Stormare is in the same movie as Hopkins, playing yet another bad bastard, and the rest of the baddies and goons play out the formulaic plot in predictable style, with predictable chase and fight scenes, and predictable music – all of it technically polished. I love a good action comedy – but this isn’t one. It’s average and in some places a bit lame: if you were a CIA operative on the most dangerous mission to save the world, would you take a goofy stand-in like Rock’s character to a street café and loudly discuss the assassination of his brother? Would you? When it’s established that the bad guys identify the home location of a certain character they want to kidnap, would you have them snatch the character off the street in the next scene? Not the home? These may seem like fussy details, but it’s these details that take the audience ‘out of the picture’ as they say in Hollywood, meaning they push us back from full involvement by being noticeable fluffs and inconsistencies. And perhaps these sorts of details also lessen the sense of real danger to the characters – and that means we don’t feel the tension that gives us the trip.
Review by Louise Keller:
A big budget action Hollywood thriller that deals in double identities, double cross and double standards, Bad Company is thrilling non-stop action, successfully contrasting the opposite styles of Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock. Hopkins is as good as ever, cool as a cucumber, offering a wonderful contrast to Rock’s hyperactive gift of the gab. Of course our perceptions of any film whose premise is centred around terrorist attacks have changed since September 11, but there’s plenty of entertainment value here with a resounding big score and music that takes us from Bach to rap, splendid locations in Prague and New York and enough tension to keep us perched on the edge of our seats. The action is relentless with many highlights, including a high-speed car chase involving a Mercedes, a tenacious aggressor flung onto the car’s bonnet, a panel van and a bomb. The most incredulous part of the storyline lies in Rock’s transformation from street smart to CIA savvy in nine days, locked up in a small room with a Czech dictionary for reference. Oh, should studying a language be that easy! But this is the magic of Hollywood, and while we may need to suspend disbelief a tad, it’s all about being entertained. Rock’s fans won’t be disappointed in the humour stakes – with lines like ‘we were so poor we used to lick stamps for dinner’ and when viewing a video tape of his articulate, wine savant screen twin brother, he quips ‘I feel like Michael Jackson looking at old album covers.’ The transformation is a success of course - in fooling the doorman, the neighbour, a dog and the villains - but fooling a girlfriend is another story… The action scenes are riveting with plenty of knuckle-whitening moments, but most of the credit for the ultimate credibility of this implausible Hollywood actioner lies in the hands of Hopkins, whose ability to masterfully create credible character never ceases to marvel. Terrific editing and assured direction bring the elements together in a satisfying way, ensuring maximum thrills for this chess game using people as pawns. You can be assured you’re in good company.
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BAD COMPANY (M)
CAST: Anthony Hopkins, Chris Rock, Matthew Marsh, Kerry Washington, Peter Stormare
PRODUCER: Michael Browning, Jerry Bruckheimer
DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher
SCRIPT: Jason Richman, Michael Browning
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dariusz Wolski
EDITOR: Mark Goldblatt
MUSIC: Trevor Rabin, addition music by Paul Linford
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jan Roelfs
RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 18, 2002
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
VIDEO RELEASE: December 23, 2002