- Jun 3, 1999
Bad Company (2002)
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Stetson
Written by Jason Richman and Micheal Browning
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Length: 117 minutes
Rating: *1/2 out of ****
With "Bad Company," director Joel Schumacher has once again taken a step in the wrong direction. A director whose resume seems to baffle me with every new film he makes, he's a man who can make something interesting like "Tigerland" or even "Falling Down," and yet has been stuck in bad Batman movies and John Grisham film adaptations. And his new film casts him into the Jerry Bruckheimer pit of style over substance (I'm assuming Simon West, Dominic Sena, Michael Bay, Tony Scott and David McNally were busy).
It seems odd to Touchstone Pictures that "Bad Company" is released a single week after the fellow, and much better, nuclear-bomb film "The Sum of all Fears." The film opens on Gaylord Oakes (Hopkins) who fumbles a possible nuclear bomb purchase, partnered with a serious looking Chris Rock, who gets shot just as he's trying to escape. As it turns out, Rock has a twin brother named Jake Hayes, who is played here by a comedic Chris Rock, who spends the entire film doing his shtick without saying the F-word. This doesn't spell good for the crinkly old Oakes, who must turn Hayes into a carbon copy of his old partner to seal the nuclear bomb deal in nine days. If not, the bomb will be sold to the next highest bidder, a terrorist who intends on detonating it in New York.
"Bad Company" is too without thrills and too vapid in its execution to make the viewer care about the post 9/11 trauma, and there's a lot of obvious material here. Action die-hards will be bored stiff -- there's hardly an entire action sequence here, mostly scenes of a LOT of yelling and bad plot developments. It gets even more incomprehensible as it approaches the end, where all the action cliches mix like fish in a blender. Schumacher directs on auto-pilot, pretty much in the same lighting, camera movement and feeling as many previous Bruckheimer productions.
As Oakes, Anthony Hopkins isn't really much of a commanding presence. I've always found him to be immensely watch-able whenever he's on screen, yet here, he is mostly standing around in a big overcoat or with a cap on, delivering crucial lines of dialogue and not much else (I will admit he has a rather funny closing scene, that would work even better in another movie). Chris Rock, on the other hand, is downright irritating, and the real problem here is he doesn't have the R rating to let him go, so instead he shrieks a lot of unfunny PG-13 material into the mix. I'll stick to his stand-up when I want him to make me laugh.
The November release of Schumacher's smaller, more independent "Phone Booth" strikes an ironic chord into the existence of "Bad Company." Did Schumacher make this film just so he could finance his pet project? Did Schumacher just bend to Bruckheimer's rules of masturbated film-making? It sure appears so, because I still believe Schumacher is an interesting director with talent up his sleeve, but apparently with nowhere to put it. And films like "Bad Company" are proof that he's better than this.
--Review by Jason Whyte