as summer comes to an end, an hence the ending of the flops of summer, i was going to pick a notorious f.l.o.p. like jonah hex, catwoman, johnny mnemonic or the island of dr. moureau ’96. but chris rock has a new movie out (2 days in paris 2: 2 days in new york, and madagascar 3 counts as a movie, i guess) and i don’t want to miss out on all the decennial celebration for bad company (2002)‘s tenth anniversary. i couldn’t find anything online but there are festivities celebrating the ten year anniversary of the release of bad company (2002), right?
i also thought it would be interesting to see something that’s on the other end of the spectrum of our last movie, david mamet’s redbelt, which cost ten times less than bad company (2002). it turns out to be a beautiful coincident that this is the antithesis to mamet’s philosophy.
actually, bad company (2002) was supposed to come out during the fall of 2001 but at the time we thought mindless action movies were dead along with irony so this movie didn’t come out until nine months after sept. 11th. it was probably long enough for us to not think about our foreign policies, or air travel, or terrorists, or bombs, or gratuitous action movies, unless you count tony scott’s spy game, donnie darko, behind enemy lines, black hawk down, collateral damage, big trouble 2002, and the sum of all fears. i’m sure they did scientific research and not for financial or coincidental reason that this big budget jerry bruckheimer produced action movie happened to come out during the summer movie season. i don’t know how they find out but no one was thinking about terrorists, weapons of mass destruction or new york nine months after sept. 11.*
speaking of bruckheimer, bad company (2002) is a blatant attempt to replicate the success of the rock. there’s the esteemed british actor paired up with an up and coming actor, an unlikely action hero. the one big difference here, and the movie never lets you forget, is that chris rock is black.
in addition to the rock, bad company (2002) also borrows from the mission: impossible movies with a prologue that takes place in prague. there’s also anthony hopkins from mission: impossible: ii as a c.i.a. leader. rock and hopkins work together to lure out the russian dealer (peter stormare from fargo and armageddon) of a weapon of mass destruction. in the surprisingly actionless i.o.a.s., rock is killed while protecting hopkins’ character. the culprits, we are told, “are not russian, and they don’t look friendly.” of course, since rock has a above-the-title last-name-only credit on the poster, you know he’s not going to get killed in the i.o.(n).a.s. and never appears again. to supersize the extra cheese, they decided that rock’s character in the opening sequence has an identical twin brother. the agency decided to employ this twin to accomplish their mission. but first, they have to spy on him to see what he’s like, so we get some enemy of the state-esque (another former bruckheimer hit) surveillance scenes.
directed by joel schumacher (batman & robin, trespass 2011), whose photo is next to the word mediocre in the dictionary, the set up is done in the first 15-20 minutes, yet the movie is somehow stretched out to almost two hours. to go by the mamet rules, the who-wants-what and what-happens-if-her-don’t-get-it are established in the opening sequence. in fact, the best way to describe bad company (2002) is another schumacher movie: flatliners.
what we are supposed to be entertained by is how the new twin is totally different from his dead brother. the dead twin was raised in a wealthy family, went to ivy league school, and listened to jazz and classical music. the twin we see most of the movie is a part time ticket scalper, part time dj, and part time chess player. of course, he prefer hip hop. there is a “joke” when he goes to his club dj job, after he finds out his girlfriend is leaving him (“seattle? seattle supersonics seattle?” ouch.), he puts on air supply (or maybe jagged edge, who covered the air supply song for the soundtrack) and every black person leaves the dance floor except for a white woman. ha ha, white people loves air supply. black people don’t like air supply. i thought maybe i sat on the remote and switched to white chicks or one of those parody movie movies.
speaking of soundtrack, the film score for some reason consists of r&b and hip hop (available on hollywood records), mostly when rock is on screen, so you don’t forget that yes, chris rock is black. hopkins’ character, a pretty high level c.i.a., at one point actually asks “what is that horrible music?” working for the c.i.a. probably doesn’t give you much time to keep up with pop culture like bloggers do, but certainly in the year 2000, he must have read a newspaper or magazine that have mentioned this “new” genre of music. i know reading is frowned upon during the w era but since it’s hinted at that he’s dating a younger woman, would he really have no idea what rap/hip hop is? the most obvious reason seems to be that anthony hopkins is old, and, unlike chris rock, white. there’s also a scene where rock’s character, with a gun pointing at him by the russians, has to make up names to fool them. since he’s black, he uses the names of rappers and basketball players, cause you know, he’s black.
the screenplay and the direction are on autopilot. the sparse action scenes are ordinary at best. nothing that you haven’t seen before. hopkins pretty much plays the same character from m: i: ii except with more screen time. unlike cage and connery, murphy/nolte, gibson/glover, BRUCE/wayans, chan/tucker, or even estevez/jackson, the two of them never seem to be in the same movie, let alone having chemistry. hopkins lacks the sly wickedness that connery has. i guess it would be noteworthy for some people to see hopkins in sunglasses, baseball cap, and leather jacket, but their whole relationship seems to boil down to hopkins learning “urban” slangs and being able to refer to rock as bitch. the one saving grace here is that rock actually has a few good one liners. they are inserted awkwardly (see also denis leary in demolition man and the brucheimer produced the ref, or rock in lethal weapon 4) but in a movie like this, you look for entertainment wherever you can. while rock is no doubt great at improv and one liners, it’s hard to grasp why, in the middle of a shoot out, hopkins would turn to rock and asks “are you having fun yet?” i don’t remember rock’s answer but i recall wanting to yell NO.
as required of 90s action movies, there’s an ambush scene late in the movie where the bad guys surround the heroes. of course, it’s an abandoned building. as per bruckheimer rules, the two stars are surrounded by recognizable character actors. in addition to peter stormare, there’s the beautiful kerry washington (lift, save the last dance, lakeview terrace, night catches us and the upcoming django unchained), a pre-mad men john slattery as hopkins’ boss, and brooke smith, who’s in the dated but overlooked series 7: the contenders.
though most of the film takes place and is shot in prague, the action eventually ends in new york city, probably cause no one would care if a nuclear bomb goes off in prague, at least in a hollywood movie. right? this, of course, is why the film was delayed. i don’t have access to a delorean but it must have been fun to see terrorists who don’t belong to any country trying to set off a weapon of mass destruction in new york pre-9/11. the country-less terrorist does eventually spout off some anti-american tirade but it feels more like action movie cliche than having anything to do with the global geopolitical issues. i don’t remember much about it but the sum of all fears, which came out a week before this movie, feels more true to life, horrible, and depressing. it’s doubtful that anyone, even if they saw this in 2001, would connect it on any level to the real world. the macguffin is such a high tech piece of technology that it still has the digital red countdown on the bomb. i won’t spoil the movie for you so you’ll just have to contemplate whether they disarm the bomb when there’s one second left or two.
there is no reason any action or buddy cop movie fans should see this movie. hopkins, even when he does paycheck movies, are usually more interesting to watch than this. i guess it’s worth two hours of your life if you’ve seen everything else chris rock has done. it’s not as tedious or laughable than most schumacher movies. it’s a movie that makes you wish there is some kind of michael bay lunacy. it signals the end of the crimson tide-the rock-con air-enemy of the state golden era bruckheimer but before the pirates and national treasure movies.
*contrary to real life, they actually have a weapon of mass destruction in the movie. the u.s. invaded iraq nine months after this movie was released, before bin laden was found.
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