Bad Company

Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Anthony Hopkins. Chris Rock, Gabriel Macht, Peter Stormare, John Slattery, Kerry Washington, Garcelle Beavais-Nilon, Matthew Marsh
Music: Trevor Rabin

Bad Company is a Jerry Bruckheimer production so you know exactly what to expect. It is big, it is loud and it is glossy. Personally I enjoy Mr Bruckheimer’s productions. I think they are great popcorn fare, but they don’t trouble your brains cells too often. The director, Joel Schumacher has had some success in recent years too, with Batman Forever and Falling Down. But regardless on the men behind the scenes, your enjoyment of this film will depend on if you like Chris Rock’s brand of comedy mixed with a modern hi-tech espionage story. If you don’t like Chris Rock’s motor mouthed urban style than this movie is not for you.

The film opens in Antique shop in Prague. Sophisticated C.I.A. Agent Kevin Pope (Chris Rock) is undercover. He is pretending to be a buyer called Michael Turner. What is he buying? A portable nuclear bomb that conveniently fits into a suitcase. The seller is Adrik Vas (Peter Stormare). Agent Pope isn’t working alone though. He has a money man coming to pay for the weapon. Enter fellow agent Oakes (Anthony Hopkins). Oakes hands over a million-dollar deposit on the weapon (against a cool twenty million total). Vas hands Pope a cell phone and tells him that he will call in ten days with the final details for the exchange of the weapon.

So the first meeting has gone well. Both Pope and Oakes go their separate ways. Unfortunately, another buyer cannot compete with the C.I.A. to buy the weapon. But this group want it anyway. Their solution is to kill the buyer – Pope. This evil organization is called The Black Hand, and their leader is Dragan Adjanic (Matthew Marsh). As Pope walks back to his hotel several of Adjanic’s men start tailing Pope. Well it is not so much tailing; it is chasing him in their BMW. Pope runs for his life. But his days are number as The Black Hand has agents everywhere. Pope is shot in the back and killed.

This poses a problem for the C.I.A. How are they going to complete the purchase without Pope. Vas doesn’t trust Oakes, or anyone else for that matter. Their only pipeline in was through Pope.

That brings us to Jake Hayes (also played by Chris Rock). Jake lives in New York and is a no-good hustler and ticket scalper, who sells tickets to sports events, Broadway shows, and everything and anything he can get his hands on. It is not a good time for Jake in his life, as his girlfriend Julie (Kerry Washington) is dumping him and moving to Seattle because he has no prospects. But things are about to change for Jake as the C.I.A. is watching him.

Oakes arranges a meeting with Jake and tells him a few truths about the way he was brought into this world. When he was born, he was one of a pair of twins. His mother died two days after childbirth and his father had long since vanished. Soon after birth, Jake developed a severe chest infection and had to be hospitalised. The doctor at the time thought it was better to separate the twins – improving the healthy one (Kevin)’s chance of adoption. And so it was. Kevin was adopted by the wealthy Pope family, went to college and became a Navy seal before joining the intelligence community. Jake on the other hand went to a foster home, which he shared with eight other foster children. But enough of the sob story. Oakes asks Jake to impersonate his brother. Jake agrees for a fee. Ten Thousand in advance and ninety after the job is done. Oakes agrees. They have eight days to get Jake in shape – turning a rough diamond into a gentleman spy.

This is the premise of the whole film. It is a classic fish out of water story. In this case taking the urban street hustler with the smart mouth and putting him in a tailored suit and placing him in some glorious surroundings. But strangely, Rock isn’t that outrageous when he is placed in this unusual setting. It is usually the contrivances of the story that upset the apple cart, rather than Rock’s mouth. Oh well, back to the story.

Oakes and his team start training Jake to take over from his brother. First he has to learn to speak like his brother and then Czech. Next he has to learn to recognise all the faces of the players in this deception. He also has to train his brain to be alert at all times.

Jake comes through all the preliminary tests with flying colours, so Oakes superiors decide on a more thorough test. They send Jake to Kevin’s apartment. If he can convince Kevin’s neighbours and friends that he is actually Kevin, he will be good to go.

There is also a second more cynical reason to send Jake to Kevin’s apartment. It is likely that The Black Hand are not convinced that Kevin is dead, and if they see Jake, it may force them to make a move.

Naturally enough that is exactly what happens. An assassin sneaks into the apartment and tries to kill Jake. Jake escapes by walking along a narrow window ledge and then fleeing into the streets. The C.I.A. team watching Jake take care of the assassin, but Jake has scarpered and is nowhere to be found. He doesn’t want to be a part of this life where people are trying to kill him.

Oakes tracks him down at his foster mother’s home and gives him a father to son chat which convinces Jake to go on with the mission. There’s plenty more to come once Jake and the team hit Prague. There are double crosses, triple crosses and as there’s a nuclear bomb involved, there’s a beat the clock ending. All of these elements add up to a fairly decent spy story. But it isn’t without it’s flaws. The biggest being the casting of Anthony Hopkins. Don’t get me wrong I like Hopkins work, and he does a good job in this film, but he was simply too old for this role. He, as the experience agent, in essence is the action man of the film. There is something not quite believable about a pudgy silver haired old man shooting it out with a gang of mean spirited terrorists and winning. Hopkins nearly sells it, but not quite. The scenes where he is running through the train station at the end are almost laughable.

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