Bad Company

By Mark Ramsey | 2002/06/08

One day we’ll see a movie weekend without a major American city being imperiled by a terrorist nuclear plot device, but that weekend is not this one.

I love Chris Rock the comic, but Chris Rock the actor brings to the fore talents not seen this side of vegetable costumes and elementary school footlights.

Taking incredulity to astonishing new heights, Chris is a young, super-spy CIA guy. And what would a young, super-spy be without his somber elder partner?

Enter Anthony Hopkins, who hauls his world-weary, high-rent butt off the Riviera long enough to somnambulate through Bad Company. When he isn’t smoking cigarillos in his trailer while slave girls fan him with palm branches Tony livens up the action like a sea lion on an ice floe. Somebody slip some iron supplements into Tony’s Courvoisier!

badcompany_length.jpgBut wait! Spy-guy Chris Rock gets offed within the first few minutes! So the CIA searches out Chris’s separated-at-birth identical twin. No, I’m not kidding – honestly! And that’s when this movie begins careening into a tree faster than you can say “Chris Rock vehicle.”

Agents find this other Chris using a surveillance camera hidden in a baseball cap. No doubt the CIA has captured many an errant peanut vendor in this fashion.

The dead Chris was serious, sophisticated Chris. The one who emphatically deadpanned lines like “You’re jeopardizing the mission!” (a real eye-roller when it comes out of Chris’s mouth).

The identical twin – the one who takes dead Chris’s place – is funny Chris – a street hustler poor in resources but rich in stand-up material.

Sir Tony’s job is to turn downtown Chris into uptown Chris – a bum into a gentleman – just like Pygmalion! Or My Fair Lady. Or Trading Places. Or Pretty Woman. Or She’s All That. Oh, Hell. Suffice it to say, if this theme were any more familiar you could buy it a corsage and take it to prom.

Tony needs Chris’s help to pull off a very convoluted spy job which essentially involves stealing $10 out of every moviegoer’s pocket. Chris’s dead twin brother, you see, was impersonating some art dealer, meaning that Chris ends up impersonating a guy who’s impersonating another guy. Sound confusing? That’s the goal! As producer Jerry Bruckheimer says, “a befuddled audience is a docile one.”

badcompany_chrisruns.jpgSo Chris hangs at the CIA crib – or at least that Hollywood division of the CIA that dresses like regulars at a San Francisco coffeehouse. These agents travel the world, killing oodles of locals with impunity. Their bad-boy actions have absolutely no consequences – hey, this isn’t the CIA, it’s the NBA!

Together, Tony and Chris confront a band of Czechoslovakian terrorists who keep handing Chris a cell phone. I suspect these terror dudes are less Al Qaeda and more Al Verizon!

Chris knows how to tell a joke, but he can’t read a line of dialogue to save his life. Unfortunately, as the suspense supposedly builds the comedy vanishes faster than Tommy Lee’s propriety at Scores.

What can you say about a movie where the salvation of the world hinges on Chris Rock’s knowledge of chess and the seating map at Madison Square Garden?

Too much action, not enough funny. Too much acting, not enough acting out. Too much bad, not enough Company.

Chris may know how to defuse a bomb, but with Bad Company he should have cut the red wire, not the green one.

Photos Copyright ©2002 Touchstone Picturess


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