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Review: 'Bad Company' is just that

As a character says: 'Doesn't this smell of desperation?'


By Paul Clinton
CNN Reviewer

(CNN) -- "Bad Company" lives up to -- or perhaps down to -- its name.

This film, starring Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock, is your typical "fish out of water" story. You've seen them a million times. Just one problem: Fish out of water usually die. This one does.

They also start to stink after a while. Ditto.

Looking highly embarrassed (as well he should), Hopkins plays a veteran CIA operative named Oakes. He's on a highly dangerous mission involving a nuclear suitcase bomb and a plan by terrorists to use it on American soil. But shortly after the opening credits, his partner, Kevin Pope (Rock), is murdered.

Just when you think the film may now actually have a chance at working, the powers that be at headquarters find Pope's twin brother. A brother nobody ever knew he had. How amazingly convenient -- not to mention ludicrous. And what a bummer the character's also played by Rock. The streetwise, semi-crooked brother, Jake Hayes, is now groomed to become a spy, fool a band of sophisticated international weapons dealers, and save the day.

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As Hopkins' character mumbles at one point, "Doesn't this smell of desperation?" To which his boss replies, "We have nine days to make this work." Hopkins' response should have been the film's title: "Which brings us back to Operation Grasping At Straws."


Director Joel Schumacher has an uneven record. He gave us "The Client" (1994), then turned around and ruined the Batman franchise in 1995 with "Batman Forever." Let's just say "Bad Company" is not going in his plus column.

The quality of the script, by Jason Richman and Michael Browning, equals Rock's acting talent. It seems Hopkins was the only one to follow it -- Rock was obviously improvising his head off, and falling flat much of the time.

He must have created a nightmare for the editors. There is not one single steady shot of this man in any scene. They had to cut and paste around him from numerous takes to get one usable scene.

Generic criminals

The rest of the cast just seems to concentrate on staying out of Rock's way as he careens through the movie.

It doesn't really matter. There are numerous sets of bad guys running around, but it's never really clear who is with whom, and you won't really care. They all wear black, and come from the eastern European division of the Hollywood extras union.

There are moments here and there that are reminiscent of a good skit on "Saturday Night Live," but not many. And, as everyone knows, "Saturday Night Live" skits made into movies are the kiss of death.

"Bad Company" opens Friday.


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