The premise of “Bad Company” is an old one, and despite the fact that it’s completely silly, unbelievable, and ultimately uninspired, Hollywood never seems to get tired of it. In “Bad Company” Chris Rock (“Down to Earth”) plays two roles: a cultured CIA operative name Kevin Pope, and a streetwise wiseass name Jake Hayes. Of course, both characters are essentially the same person, right down to the goatee. (It’s called lazy filmmaking, folks.)
When CIA Rock is killed in Prague while negotiating to buy a Russian nuclear suitcase bomb, CIA Rock’s boss Oakes (Anthony Hopkins) is forced to go to CIA Rock’s twin brother, Street Rock. Neither twin knew the other existed, since they were separated at birth. Lured into service with the promise of cash, Street Rock goes through rigorous training in order to play CIA Rock, who was killed by a rival faction trying to buy the suitcase bomb. The rivals are Czech terrorists who lack money, but make up for it with a cloudy disposition and the will to kill anyone in their way.
The film devotes nearly half of its running length to Street Rock’s training. As expected, Street Rock shows amazing adaptation skills, and in no time is able to fool everyone (in the film, that is). Which is not such a good thing, because those Czech terrorists who killed CIA Rock are now after Street Rock, not knowing he is just posing as CIA Rock!
“Bad Company” is directed by Joel Schumacher, the same man who single-handedly buried the “Batman” franchise. “Company” is a slick Hollywood picture with an incessant amount of overhead aerial shots and flashy pans, the kind of camera tricks only possible with a big budget. With this movie, Schumacher has shifted into Hack Schumacher, which means he brings nothing of note to the picture except an eye for visuals. The only criteria he probably had to meet were to bring the film in on time and on budget.
As the lead, Chris Rock seems more restrained than usual, and I found him to be actually very funny. This, I believe, is because Rock is so restrained that when he bursts out into Comedian Rock he had me laughing. Unlike other black actors, Rock seems ready to ditch the “loud mouth sassy black character” stereotype that fellow black actors Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Jerry Maguire”) and Chris Tucker (“Rush Hour”) have embraced with open arms. Thank God Rock is trying to break that mold.
Anthony Hopkins (“Hannibal”) is solid as CIA veteran chief Oakes. Even if Hopkins sometimes looks bored by the limited confines of his character, he’s such a good actor that it takes very little for him to give the best performance in the picture. Oakes is in charge of a small and close-knit unit that includes Seale (Gabriel Macht), Oakes’ top gunman. In another movie, Macht’s Seale might actually have been the hero; he certainly has a lot of exciting and action-packed scenes here. Macht has the makings of a future star, but unfortunately he’s working against Hopkins and Rock, both of whom have star power, and Macht becomes lost in the background as a result.
Brooke Smith (“Series 7”) is Swanson, another member of Oakes’ crew. Swanson has a relationship with Oakes that extends beyond their work, although the film doesn’t bother to touch upon it, which is a shame because it would have lent proof that Oakes is more than just a harden CIA field commander. As it stands, the characters have very little personality because the filmmakers don’t seem to care enough about them to bother. This, despite the fact that Street Rock gets (what seems like) too much background work.
“Bad Company” suffers badly from the presence of the Czech terrorists, mostly because the movie never really explains their motivations beyond a one-minute speech toward the end. As a result there’s no real understanding, or even an attempt at one, of why these Czechs are so determined to nuke New York City. Of course that doesn’t really matter because “Bad Company” doesn’t seem especially bothered by its lack of substance.
Besides all that, Chris Rock proves that he’s a big enough attraction at the moment to warrant being in a movie where he plays identical twins. As we all know, only big action stars that have track records of box office domination are blessed by Hollywood to play two roles in the same movie, going under the assumption that, “if one is good, two will be great!” Schwarzenegger (“The Sixth Day”), Jet Li (“The One”), and Jean-Claude Van Damme (“Double Impact”) have all done it. Now Rock can add his name to the list.
Here’s me waiting for Jackie Chan to get “twinned”…
Joel Schumacher (director) / Gary Goodman, David Himmelstein, Jason Richman, Michael Browning (screenplay)
CAST: Anthony Hopkins …. Oakes
Chris Rock …. Jake Hayes/Kevin Pope
Gabriel Macht …. Seale
Garcelle Beauvais …. Nicole
Brooke Smith …. Officer Swanson