Bad Company

on June 07, 2002 by Michael Tunison
It's clear enough why somebody thought the contrasting charms of Shakespearean thespian Anthony Hopkins and irreverent comic Chris Rock might pump some life into the buddy action genre, which hasn't been particularly well served since the days of "48 Hrs." and "Lethal Weapon." But while the stars' opposite personae do generate a few sparks along the way, the routine Jerry Bruckheimer production "Bad Company" isn't much of a vehicle for showing off what they can do, separately or in tandem.

A spy thriller prologue follows a veteran CIA agent named Oakes (Hopkins) and his young partner (Rock) as they negotiate to purchase a suitcase-sized nuclear bomb from a Russian gangster ("Fargo's" Peter Stormare) in Prague. When Rock's character is killed partway through the deal, Oakes and his team are forced to dig up the dead agent's long-lost twin Jake (also Rock), a smart-aleck New Yorker who makes his living hustling chess and selling premium event tickets. The catch is that Oakes has only days to transform the street-educated Jake into a convincing stand-in for his ultra-sophisticated Ivy League brother. If they fail, the CIA will lose its shot at recovering the bomb--and can probably kiss a major U.S. city goodbye.

"Bad Company's" modest allotment of laughs is built on Rock's fish-out-of-water character reacting to 007-level dangerous situations, and indeed nobody since Eddie Murphy in his prime has been better suited to delivering one-liners such as his suggestion to slumming straight-man Hopkins to "Throw out some tacks or something!" when their car is being pursued by an enemy vehicle. Such zingers are scattered sparsely through Jason Richman and Michael Browning's mostly hackneyed script, while the routine terrorist-nuke plot requires characters to do stupid things like call loved ones from easily traceable hotel phones. Despite the slick direction from Joel Schumacher ("Batman & Robin"), the action set pieces are painfully predictable right down to the inevitable "red wire or blue wire?" finale. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Chris Rock, Gabriel Macht, Peter Stormare and Brooke Smith. Directed by Joel Schumacher. Written by Jason Richman and Michael Browning. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Mike Stenson. A Buena Vista release. Comedy/Action. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, some sensuality and language. Running time: 116 min

Tags: Starring Anthony Hopkins, Chris Rock, Gabriel Macht, Peter Stormare, Brooke Smith, Directed by Joel Schumacher, Written by Jason Richman, Michael Browning, Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Mike Stenson, Buena Vista, Comedy, Action

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