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Jamie Foxx tests new territory in an urban comic cyber thriller that would have worked much better as a straight action flick.


A cold-blooded computer hacker (Doug Hutchison) breaches the government's top security system and smuggles $40 million in gold bullion out of a federal depository. His accomplice stashes the gold in a secret location and then dies, courtesy of a brutally incompetent federal agent (David Morse), but not before passing a cryptic message to his cellmate, petty crook Alvin Sanders (Foxx). This makes the unsuspecting Sanders the perfect lure for a complex sting, designed to snare both the thief and the loot. But with his bumbling brother (Mike Epps) in the picture, can the feds keep him out of trouble long enough to get their man? And will his girlfriend (Kimberly Elise) and young son get caught in the crossfire?


TV and stand-up comedian Foxx ("Any Given Sunday," "The Truth About Cats & Dogs") shows his versatility with a credible action performance; as his rumored role in the upcoming "A Star is Born" remake shows, he's in little danger of being typecast. Surprisingly, Foxx fails as a funny man, though much of the blame should go to the stale, hackneyed material he had to work with.


Director Antoine Fuqua ("The Replacement Killers") knows how to stage motorized madness on a modest budget. The absence of gratuitous gunplay (and, would you believe, only two explosions?) is equally noteworthy. But the screenplay bounces between action, drama and half-hearted comedy all too often, never building enough momentum for a proper climax. We see far too little of Hutchison, a very effective bad guy, and too much of the not-very-funny car thieves in pursuit of Foxx and Epps. Not helping matters are the urban-cyberpunkish blue and gray tones that dominate the cinematography; the color scheme soon gets visually monotonous, dragging down a plot that needs to change gears smoothly in order to get up to speed.

Bottom Line

Like a California-style pizza, "Bait" combines appealing ingredients into a dish that doesn't quite taste right.


Starring Jamie Foxx, David Morse, Doug Hutchison, Mike Epps and Kimberly Elise.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Produced by Sean Ryerson. Screenplay by Andrew Scheinman, Adam Scheinman and Tony Gilroy. Released by Warner Bros.