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Case Number 02403

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Bad Company

Touchstone Pictures // 2002 // 117 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 26th, 2002

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our review of Bad Company (1972), published July 18th, 2002, is also available.

The Charge

For these two partners, things are about to get very, very bad.

Opening Statement

Sometimes Hollywood does right by teaming up two completely opposite actors, usually in a wacky comedy or explosive, big-budget action flick. Who'd have thought Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker would work so well together in Rush Hour? Or how about Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin in the comedy Midnight Run? And who'd a thought that Sylvester Stallone and Estelle Getty would create such sparks in the non-stop laugh-fest Stop, Or My Mom Will Shoot!?!?

Once again, Hollywood tried to come up with the perfect oddball pairing by putting acidic comedian Chris Rock (Down To Earth) on-screen with major thespian Sir Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal) in the Jerry Bruckheimer produced Bad Company. Directed by Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever, Flawless, Batman and Robin…need I say more?), Bad Company (not to be confused with the rock group) comes to DVD care of Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

Facts of the Case

Jakes Hayes (Rock) is about to get a crash course in CIA warfare care of his now deceased twin sibling (Rock again!). When Jake's brother is killed while staking out a nuclear arms deal with a dangerous Russian thug (Peter Stormare, Fargo), veteran agent Gaylord Oakes (Hopkins) must recruit his streetwise twin—for those of you not paying attention, this would be Jake—to pose as the fallen agent and finish the deal, thus keeping the nuclear device out of enemy hands…or something like that. Things begin to really heat up when the bad guys kidnap Jake's long time Jersey girlfriend (Kerry Washington). Then a lot of gunfire happens. And Rock makes a lot of cracks and witticisms. Then again, the plot isn't really the point here: it's all about the gunfire, explosions, and wacky team-up of Hopkins and Rock.

The Evidence

I've got a great packaging idea for Bad Company: no-doze pills. I think Buena Vista would do well to include a shrink-wrapped package of caffeine pills as a marketing ploy for this DVD release. Otherwise, I'm not sure how folks will be able to stay awake through this nearly two-hour exercise in redundancy.

Bad Company is a film cobbled together of every other action movie ever made. It's the cousin of Lethal Weapon. The nephew of The Rock. The stepson of The Last Boy Scout. And it's not half as exciting as any of those movies. I guess that somewhere, somehow, the pairing of Hopkins and Rock looked really good to someone (most likely Bruckheimer, who specializes in these slam-bang movies). While certain duos don't always work together, is it possible put together two actors who don't work on any level together? Hopkins and Rock are so wrong together that it's like mixing oil and water. Though I'm not a particular fan of Rock's comedy stylings or acting abilities (Dogma's about it for this reviewer), he seems especially uncomfortable in this film. When Rock is spouting off a comedic monologues he can be mildly amusing—otherwise, the guy doesn't seem to have a clue about how to perform in a movie like Bad Company. It also doesn't help that he plays two characters, and neither of them very convincingly—Rock is the last person in Hollywood who can pull of a character that rivals James Bond. As for Hopkins, he seems to be stuck in some solemn, serious mood that doesn't really work when combined with Rock's jokes. Paunchy and a little haggard, this role may have been better suited for someone like James Woods or Janet Reno.

The plot…where do I begin? It's there if you want it, though I doubt anyone who's watching Bad Company cares about the intricacies of the screenplay. There's a bomb, there are bad guys who want the bomb, there are good guys who don't want the bad guys to have the bomb…that's about all you need to know. About halfway into the film I stopped trying to follow all the twists and turns in the story and just paid attention to the slick production design and action sequences, of which there are many. Because this film was produced by the same guy who brought us Con Air and Top Gun, there are plenty of big-bang-booms and other such loud nonsense. I guess it's kind of exciting in its own way, though "its own way" means a retread of everything we've ever seen before on celluloid.

Bad Company is forgettable, but may go down as a footnote in history with films like Big Trouble because of its postponement due to September 11th, 2002. As noted, the movie deals with terrorists and nuclear bombs, a weighty subject that until 9/11 was often fodder for the action/comedy genre. For the time being, I think those days are long gone. And if Bad Company is any indication of the films that might have been, that may not be such a terrible thing.

Bad Company is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Though my complaints about the movie are many, I don't have a lot of gripes about this transfer—Buena Vista has done a very fine job making this image look clean, crisp, and very well saturated. The colors and black levels are all solid and dark without any edge enhancement or other imperfections marring the image. Overall, a solid and very nice effort by the Mouse House.

The soundtrack is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English and French), plus DTS 5.1 Surround in English. Either of these sound mixes will work well with your home theater system—filled with dynamic range, thumping bass, and oodles of surround sounds from both the front and rear channels, both the DTS and Dolby 5.1 tracks deliver. All aspects of the mix are free and clear of any hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles, though somehow I get the feeling Rock's rants don't translate well into other languages.

Due to Bad Company's poor box office receipts, it's not much of a shocker to find this disc nearly void of extra features. The only true supplement included on this disc is a short featurette titled "In Bad Company" featuring interviews with Rock, Hopkins, and Bruckheimer discussing only minor aspects of the story and production. I found this to be a fairly standard promotional piece that will be forgotten as fast as the film it's reporting on.

Also included are the standard "sneak peeks" including Reign of Fire and other various Buena Vista films.

Closing Statement

Bad Company lives up to its name by being a bland, generic action movie that gives nothing new to the viewer. If you're a diehard Hopkins or Rock fan, I'd say this is best served as a rental. Otherwise, do yourself a favor and check out one of Rock's comedies or Hopkins' dramas—I'm sure whatever you choose it will be better than this turkey. Buena Vista's work on this disc is apt enough—good audio/video presentations with a low amount of extras.

The Verdict

Bad Company is guilty of being a bad action movie. Court adjourned.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 98
Audio: 98
Extras: 50
Acting: 77
Story: 60
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 117 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Action
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• "In Bad Company" Featurette
• Trailers

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