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Bad Company

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rating: PG-13 (For Intense Sequences Of Violent Action, Some Sensuality and Language)

Running Time: 117 minutes

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Chris Rock, Gabriel Macht

Screenplay by: Jason Richman and Michael Browning
Story by: Gary Goodman and David Himmelstein

Directed by: Joel Schumacher

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: In Bad Company: An Inside Look, Sneak Peeks. DVD-ROM: Register Your DVD

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, THX-Certified, Scene Selections (11 Scenes)

Released: November 12th, 2002

 

 

CIA agent Gaylord Oakes (Anthony Hopkins) has just lost his partner (Chris Rock) in a nuclear arms deal gone bad. Nonetheless, the CIA still wants Oakes' partner in the deal to finish what he started. All hope may not be lost, when the CIA recruits his twin brother, a street hustler by the name of Jakes Hayes (also Chris Rock). While Jake is in disbelief that he actually had a Harvard educated twin brother, it's up to Oakes to train Hayes in the ways of the CIA in a mere nine days or it could mean the end of the world from some big, bad terrorists. Yet when those terrorists learn the truth, Hayes' involvement and mission gets a bit more personal...

Despite some pretty heavy promotion on "Bad Company" (I HAD to see the trailer at least a dozen or two times that started a good six months before its release I believe... oh, and Rock and Hopkins went out on what seemed to be every talk show to push it), the film flopped when it opened in June 2002 (and the bad reviews didn't help either). One also cannot forget the film was supposed to open sometime around Christmas 2001, but alas, the events of 9/11 still fresh in American moviegoers minds and due to some of the subject manner in the film, it was delayed to a summertime release. Be it the film was successful or not, it's probably all such a shame since the film did have a lot of potential in its talent and story.

Odd couple pairings in Hollywood are not a new thing, and while some have worked great to make wonderful films, other pairings that may sound good or interesting and end up rather pointless since the leads may lack chemistry end up making one think "What the hell were they thinking?" Naturally, having Chris Rock be Anthony Hopkins' foil (one's the street smart, obnoxious African-American guy and the other is the dignified, esteemed white-bred man) shows promise. Rock is known for his comedy and attitude; Hopkins for his wide variety of serious performances. I'd say their pairing falls in between the great and the bad.

It's not that the two don't share any kind of chemistry. They actually do and hold it up quite well, not to mention when they're alone their performances are rather strong. I just think their chemistry and how well they hold up against one another is on the line between natural and forced. At times I felt it worked, other times you could tell that there wasn't much to what they were doing. The latter though seems to do more with the actual script. I'm a bit mixed and akward on the whole thing.

Again, both turn in solid performances, but there were times when I felt that Rock's brand of improv and comedy seemed to be toned down in part to the story. It is supposed to be serious due to the action and plot, but what's the point of having Chris Rock if he can't provide ample comic relief in the odd couple? Don't get me wrong, Rock does shine at times, but being a fan of the actor, I wish there was more of that and that there were writers hired for the project who could tailor to Rock and Hopkins as far as comedy, content in their characters and the actual plot of the film itself. Maybe there should have been someone else cast in Rock's role?

Still, my main troubles with "Bad Company" though are from the script. Credited to two people who made up the story and two more writers who wrote the script, this is your cookie-cutter Hollywood action fest, courtesy of Jerry Bruckheimer (who's stereotyped for this type of thing). This film is really nothing new, and while there are many different movies like this that aren't new either, those other films have done it much better and at least give off some sense of freshness, something "Bad Company" does not. A lot of it feels tiresome, especially when it comes to Hayes' relationships, his past, his street-wise ways, his training, how he learns to accept responsibility and all of that. But then there's the plot too, which thinks is so serious and deadly but it's so absurd in the Hollywood way that you'd come to expect. Top it off with your standard kind of action scenes, and it's really hard to find what makes "Bad Company" so different when you compare it to other fish out of water action flicks.

Some of you know I'm not a giant fan of Joel Schumacher, so as the movie gods try to piss me off as best as they can, it just so happens he is the director of "Bad Company." Here, Schumacher gets bogged down in the little scenes mostly and has an overemphasis on things that don't need them and an underemphasis on the things that need more understanding to connect with the audience. His pacing is pretty uneven, but I will give the man credit for staging some enjoyable action scenes, all topped with some nice shots here and there (though some of those can be ridiculous - such as the opening where the twin brother is murdered and the Church people are singing and walking through the street). Schumacher hasn't done anything totally unique and brilliant, but he has certainly done better.

In the end, Hopkins and Rock aren't a perfect screen team, but they do boost the film's interest factor. There are certainly some entertaining and amusing scenes, but there really aren't enough of them. And despite nice supporting performances from Gabriel Macht and John Slattery (I wish the film had more of him) as well as a very nice musical score from Trevor Rabin that screams "Metal Gear Solid," "Bad Company" is run-of-the-mill at best.

 

Featuring a THX-certified 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, "Bad Company" look pretty stunning, but it is not without its flaws. I'll get the bad out of the way first, if you don't mind. While the print is in good shape, blemishes pop up here and there and can be a little distracting. Still, what I found most distracting is how edge halos, shimmering and a whole heap of noise basically plague the transfer. It seems there is some form of at least one of those in every scene. Now THAT is very annoying. There is also some slight edge enhancment.

Detail isn't anything majorly special, but it is pretty good. Fleshtones are also pretty good, while color satuation is nice for the most part, but due to the film's unique color scheme of more drab, darker colors I felt that at times it was all a bit underwhelming. The film's look is particuarly more grainy than one might expect, it seems Schumacher and company processed the film through some kind of crazy toner to give it some gritty, docu/cinematic look that doesn't exactly look as sharp or different as it should. On the plus side however, most exterior shots look rather nice. Still, despite the flaws, it's a pretty strong transfer.

 

Featuring dual Dolby Digital and DTS English 5.1 mixes (a French Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is also included), both mixes reach near-reference quality (and are also THX-certified). I don't find any of this surprising, given how much violence this film has (and violence means a lot of sound!). Anyhow, the music is nicely placed throughout the speakers, be it Rabin's score or the variety of hip-hop songs that are played throughout the film. Still, it's through the action sequences, chases, gun fire... you name it where all the sound effects come into play and shine. The more subtle effects sound pretty good too. The sound effects create a rich atmosphere, and surprisingly, the music and sound effects don't get lost in it.

The .1 LFE is quite strong on both tracks, but if I had to choose between the two, my edge would be to the DTS, but ever so slightly. At times I felt it was a bit more transparent and three-dimensional, not to mention a tiny bit crisper. Nonetheless, both are awesome tracks that do not disappoint. The movie might not be great, but if you have a good setup, you'll certainly enjoy the sound. Also included are English closed captions, English subtitles and Spanish subtitles.

 

So the film was a dud... and now it doesn't get the treatment in the extras department. The only main thing here is In Bad Company: An Inside Look. This is your typical electronic press kit featurette with clips from the movie, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Bruckheimer, Schumacher, Hopkins, Rock, Macht and a few other cast members. It's decent and nicely produced. I guess there is some interesting stuff to gain here, but it's not much. If you liked the movie, it's a nice and short watch. I guess like the film itself, it does have its moments. It runs about 12 minutes and is in full frame.

You can register your DVD if you use DVD-ROM, and then you have some Sneak Peeks for "Frank McKlusky C.I.," Reign Of Fire and Big Trouble. Oh, and there's also a THX Optimizer... but that's standard for THX-certified discs.

 

"Bad Company" has its moments... but those are too far in-between everything else this rather superflous film offers. I guess it makes for somewhat decent mindless entertainment as a rental, but if you're a fan of the movie and want to own it, you'll get slighted with the supplements but you'll get a pretty good presentation of the film in the sound and sight departments (which are THX-certified). However, $29.99 is a pretty steep price for what's offered here.