There are times when I feel that I should stand up and defend a maligned movie. This is not one of those times.
Same old, same old. Snore.
After his hitherto unknown twin brother Kevin is killed during a CIA operation in Prague, New Jersey hustler Jake Hayes is recruited by The Agency to pose as Kevin in order to complete his mission: buying a suitcase nuke from the Russian mafia. What could possibly go wrong?
This 2002 effort from the superteam of director Joel Schumacher and producer Jerry Bruckheimer is the textbook example of the cynicism of Hollywood. Containing not one single iota of originality, every single plot point and story beat is straight out of the Big Book of Mismatched Buddy Action Comedy Clichés. Had Bad Company been written twenty years earlier by Shane Black or Daniel Petrie Jr (for example) then it could have been fresh and exciting and interesting, and probably funnier. As it is, Jason Richman and Michael Browning’s script does nothing but tiredly tick the boxes.
As our mismatched buddies, Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins struggle to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. The tone of the film is too far down the middle; not comedic enough for Rock to cut loose, and not serious enough for Hopkins to really get his teeth into. Rock does get the occasional mini-rant that could have been lifted from his stand-up act but, just like in Lethal Weapon 4, these moments don’t quite gel with the rest of the scene around them. Hopkins comes across as somewhere between bored and sardonically amused at the situation he’s found himself in. His performance here is a lot like his M:I-2 cameo in fact, only expanded to a lead role. There are moments that hint at the chemistry that could have been, but unfortunately they never quite ignite.
Schumacher has assembled a solid supporting cast to back up his mismatched buddies. Peter Stormare seems to be relishing his Maffiya moments but is unceremoniusly dumped halfway through the movie. A pre-Mad Men John Slattery classes up the joint as Hopkins’ Agency superior, and there’s a shamefully uncredited turn from Shea Whigham as the tech support guy. Here’s one for the trivia fans among you: Hopkins’ partner Swanson is played by Brook Smith, who played the girl Hopkins (as Hannibal Lecter) was recruited to help save in Silence of the Lambs. All together now: “it puts the lotion in the basket or it gets the hose again!”
Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski (Prometheus) shoots the hell out of the Prague sequences, but as with everyone else, he never has the opportunity to get experimental or come up with something too new or interesting.
As well as the general feeling of “woulda, shoulda, coulda” that surrounds Bad Company, it’s grasp of logic is just embarrassing. I almost turned the flick off when the bad guys seemingly get from Prague to New Jersey – with a suitcase nuke in their possession – in about twenty minutes. And I love how nobody questions the fact that the CIA is putting white-haired Welshmen in the field…