A veteran CIA agent must transform a sarcastic, street-wise guy into a sophisticated and savvy spy to replace his murdered identical twin brother--in only nine days.
Two high-level CIA operatives, agents Gaylord Oakes (played by Anthony Hopkins) and Kevin Pope (played by Chris Rock), pose as buyers for a Russian suitcase bomb to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. In order to win over Russian black marketer Vas (played by Peter Stormare), Kevin creates an alias for himself as a wealthy antiques dealer in Prague, Czech Republic, named Michael Turner. The plan, however, goes awry when rival buyers kill Pope nine days before the sale is finalized. In what's dubbed as ''operation grasping at straws,'' the CIA enlists the help of his twin brother, Jake Hayes, (also played by Rock) to act as a stand-in for Pope and purchase the nuclear device. The situation is tricky because not only were the two brothers unaware of each other, but they also grew up with totally opposite socioeconomic backgrounds: Hayes grew up in foster homes, while Pope was adopted by a loving family and attended an Ivy League college. Mix two completely opposite characters like Oakes and Hayes, and it's a given that funny things are going to happen. Bad Company is no exception. While watching Hayes getting accustomed to Pope's lifestyle generates laughs and great one-liners, the film's storyline lacks imagination.
Rock's performance far is more convincing in Bad Company than in last year's romantic comedy Down to Earth, in which his deliverance was a little stiff, to say the least. Much like his first headlining film, however, Rock seems more at ease when he launches into diatribes about this and that and is at his funniest when delivering witty one-liners like ''CIA? What's that, crackers in my ass?'' Rock is probably one of the most talented comedians out there right now; it's just too bad the right movie hasn't come along to capitalize on that yet. As the standoffish agent Oakes, Hopkins is commanding and adds just the right touch of sweetness to his character. He plays Oakes as a stern and serious character without going over the top, even showing a slightly humorous and sensitive side at times. There are moments, however, when he just seems to be going through the motions. NYPD Blues' Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon has a small part as Pope's girlfriend, who works as a CNN correspondent in Europe. Beauvais-Nilon is undoubtedly a gifted actress, but I found it hard to buy this drop-dead-gorgeous woman as a CNN reporter. Fox News, maybe.
Directed by Joel Schumacher, Bad Company has action, drama and humor, but there is something about the story that may leave you feeling unsatisfied. I think it has to do with the fact that this type of story has been played out too many times before. While mixing opposite characters and the whole fish-out-of-water concept are always surefire ways to generate laughs, the film is predictable from the start. You have a young wisecracking black guy, an old fuddy-duddy white guy, evil foreigners and a ticking bomb with a large digital clock that gets deactivated seconds before it is set to detonate. (Don't worry, this is not a spoiler because the film's protagonist never gets blown up.) And why can't anyone, other than maybe Rob Cohen, get a car chase right? It's hard to buy into a chase's believability when a panel van is actually able to overtake a Mercedes-Benz S 500. The film looks slick enough, especially with Prague as a dominant location, but Michael Browning and first-timer Jason Richman's screenplay just doesn't cut it.
Although Bad Company has some really funny moments and some slightly-above-average acting by Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins, the story remains mediocre and unimaginative, resorting to the same old tricks and antics we have seen all too many times before.