Bad Company (2002)

(Netflix Streaming, September 2016) I really like Chris Rock as a performer, so seeing him alongside Anthony Hopkins in the middle of an espionage comedy should have been interesting. But while Bad Company has its moments of inspiration, it doesn’t rise to much more than a middle-of-the-road action comedy. Unlike some similar film (and there are plenty of similarities between this one and its 2002 contemporary I Spy), Bad Company doesn’t have much in terms of action, focusing rather on the verbal sparring between Rock and Hopkins, as well as a plot that could have served as a basis for a much more serious film. Here, Rock plays a gifted street hustler who is recruited by the American government to impersonate his long-lost twin brother. Street meets high society with a big splash of undercover intrigue—you can imagine the predictable laughs that the street-smart protagonist gets once he confronts both the CIA, upper-class friends of his brother and eastern European terrorist villains. Thanks to Joel Shumacher’s competent direction, the film moves at a good clip and nearly always looks good. Still, the most memorable sequences have more to do with comedy (such as Hopkin’s lame attempt to bring him back into the fold, or whenever Kerry Washington shows up as his brother’s exploitative girlfriend) that with suspense, which is not necessarily a bad thing. As a vehicle for Rock, Bad Company isn’t bad, but it doesn’t rise much above that.

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