Chris Rock stars as a CIA agent and a street hustler, twin brothers separated at birth. When the more successful brother, Kevin (ironically the one who got his act together and made a life for himself, yet also the one who got himself killed) is shot escaping a touchy sting operation in which he and his team try to buy a stolen nuclear weapon with cyber money that doesn't exist in real life, the CIA are faced with abandoning a 2 year project and risking themselves because their new enemies are going to want to know what happened to their deal or seeking out Kevin's twin brother Jake, who makes a living whipping the crap out of unsuspecting chess players in Central Park and selling scalped tickets to just about any event you can imagine.
At this point in the film, it's clear that the premise is a remarkably strong one for an action comedy - the irony of having a street hustler suddenly thrown into a top secret CIA operation. And when you throw in Chris Rock as the hustler and Anthony Hopkins as his new mentor, it seems that you simply can't go wrong. Unfortunately, the movie seems to lose track of the fact that it is a comedy, and in more ways that just forgetting to throw in some good one-liners.
Bad Company was made and scheduled to be released before September 11th, but was then delayed for obvious reasons (similar to the obvious reasons that delayed the release of the much more incendiary Collateral Damage, given its subject matter). Because the movie was written before the attacks, the writers can't have been expected to have known what bad taste it was to center the plot on a stolen nuclear device that was meant to level a major city on the eat coast. I don't hold that against it because of the 9/11 attacks, but only because it is such a tired premise. When are we going to see some good action movies that are about something other than one guy who has to save a whole city from terrorists with big bombs?
There are points in the movie where it seems that the writers stopped and said, `Oh wait, this is supposed to be a comedy,' and threw in a few completely unamusing jokes here and there, mostly in the form of totally inappropriate one-liners from Rock that almost invariably fall completely flat. He and Hopkins do, however, have a bit of chemistry onscreen, but it is mostly wasted. This is a flashy Bruckheimer production, obviously, but it is one of the least interesting action films that Bruckheimer has turned out in years. Granted, most of his productions are cheesy crap, but this one even manages to be boring despite itself.
I watched Bad Company right after watching Men in Black II, and so was already prepared for disappointment, but I found myself trying to figure out why exactly the movie is called Bad Company. Surely it can't be because the CIA is forced to employ someone literally off the street, because he turns out to be remarkably bright and much more capable than they had anticipated. Then at the end of the movie, just as the bad guy is about to get killed, he says something about how we Americans think we're so great but we just sit here while people all over the world suffer and die, and we just watch it on our televisions and grab another burger. This is, of course, disturbingly true, and it is not a small part of the reason that four airplane were hijacked in late 2001. It's something that Americans love to ignore so that we can pretend we're victims. The victims on September 11th were the people in the buildings and the people in the planes and al of their families, the country itself was not.
Does `Bad Company,' then, refer to the company that the rest of the world is in, being in the company of America? It seems that the message that this film leaves resonating in your mind at the end is about what a selfish and greedy country America is, and how capable we are to ignore the suffering of the rest of the world as long as we have our fancy cars and our money and our heart disease instead of starvation. In this case, I guess Bad Company's not such a bad movie after all. It certainly gives a pretty potent wake up call at the end, but one that will probably be largely ignored along with the rest of the film. Ah well.