Reviewed by Colin Jacobson
Apparently due to some bad experiences during the shoot of Titus, Anthony Hopkins announced his retirement from film acting a few years ago. That retreat didnít last long, as Hopkins quickly came back for flicks like Hannibal and Hearts In Atlantis.
With choices like that, Hopkins canít argue that he returned to the screen for artistic reasons. You wonít find any evidence to contradict that opinion in his latest flick, 2002ís Bad Company. His first teaming with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Company provides a formulaic and uninspired action movie that offers virtually nothing new or compelling.
At the start of Company, we see CIA agents Kevin Pope (Chris Rock) and Gaylord Oakes (Hopkins) as they go undercover on a mission to deal with a Russian arms dealer. Adrik Vas (Peter Stormare) has a nuclear weapon for sale, and the CIA needs to deal with this. However, a terrorist named Dragan Adjanic (Matthew Marsh) takes an interest in matters as well, and as a result, Kevin gets killed.
However, the enemy doesnít know their attempts succeeded, so to salvage the mission, they recruit Jake Hayes (Rock again). Separated at birth from identical twin brother Kevin, Jake never knew he had a brother, and he grew up under very different circumstances. Whereas Kevin lived a pampered life and went to the best schools, Jake endured a more hardscrabble existence in the New York area, and he currently tries to get by doing odd jobs like ticket scalping and chess hustling. This doesnít sit well with his girlfriend Julie (Kerry Washington); she loves him but plans to leave him for a career opportunity in Seattle.
To keep the mission alive, Oakes recruits Hayes to fill in for his deceased twin. Of course, the streetwise Jake doesnít resemble the sophisticated Kevin in any way other than physical, so he needs training to duplicate his brother. The film covers those moments and then takes us into the pursuit for the nuke and a satisfactory ending to the affair.
Iíve frequently defended Jerry Bruckheimer over the years, but Bad Company makes it tough to do so. Most of his movies offer slick escapist fare that never challenges the viewer but that provides glossy and well-executed entertainment. Bad Company gets the polished and shiny part right, but it fails to ever even threaten to become involving and enjoyable.
Most Bruckheimer films seem formulaic, but Bad Company simply reeks of that issue. We find two very different guys who donít like each other paired up for a mission; as it progresses, they learn to respect and like each other. Not exactly a novel concept, is it? That plan had already started to grow stale when Lethal Weapon took hold of it in 1987, so it seems really tired by 2002.
The antagonism between Oakes and Hayes appears utterly predictable and uninspired. It doesnít help that Rock and Hopkins demonstrate virtually no chemistry between them. The pair feel totally disengaged during their shared scenes, and that really harms the movie. Even though Lethal Weapon may have not demonstrated a creative plot, at least Danny Glover and Mel Gibson sparked together; that faded by the end of the series, but their interaction helped make the movies more memorable than they should have been. The same didnít go for Hopkins and Rock, two actors who seem badly mismatched here.
Individually they donít do much to shine either. Hopkins lends some weight to the character, but he seems terribly bored throughout the movie. I donít think this occurs just because he thinks heís slumming; Bad Company isnít much trashier than Hannibal, and Hopkins showed more energy there. I donít know why Hopkins comes across as so uninvolved in his character, but he really sleepwalks through the part.
As for Rock, he demonstrates a little more spark, but I still donít think the man can act, and that takes away from his performance. Rock tosses out a few good wisecracks, but even much of his humor falls flat. Most of the comedy comes across as forced and lacks much wit, and Rockís attempts at drama also fail to ignite.
Director Joel Schumacher fails to do anything to elevate Bad Company above its genre origins. As with his two Batman flicks, he makes it look smooth and sparkly, but he doesnít offer any form of depth or creativity. The movie also runs on way too long; it just keeps going and going despite its minimal plot and bland action sequences. Bad Company feels like nothing more than an extended TV commercial for the most part, and it offers little to make it worthwhile.
The DVD Grades: Picture B+ / Audio B / Bonus D
Bad Company appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not uniformly excellent, the picture generally looked quite good.
Sharpness seemed positive. The movie always came across as crisp and detailed, and I noticed virtually no signs of softness. Instead, the image remained tight and distinct. Jagged edges and moirť effects created no concerns, but I did notice a little minimal edge enhancement. Some light grain cropped up from time to time, and I also discerned a small mark or two, but otherwise the movie appeared clean and fresh.
Bad Company featured a glossy and stylized palette typical of modern Bruckheimer films, and the DVD replicated those tones well. From the cold bluish tint of the CIA scenes to more naturalistic hues, the movie showed a varied and vivid sense of color that worked nicely. The tones always seemed clean and robust, with no issues related to bleeding, noise, or other concerns. Black levels looked appropriately deep and dense, while shadows seemed logically heavy but never became overly thick or opaque. Ultimately, Bad Company demonstrated a mostly terrific visual experience.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks of Bad Company also seemed good, though they didnít quite live up to my expectations. When I compared the two mixes, I found them to sound virtually identical. I discerned no significant differences between the tracks.
For the most part, Bad Company betrayed a surprisingly strong forward emphasis. In that domain, the audio meshed together well. Music showed nice stereo imaging, while effects panned smoothly and created a good sense of environment. The surrounds seemed somewhat passive much of the time, though they came to life fairly well during the movieís action sequences. Even some of those lacked the dimensionality I expected, but the rear speakers usually added a fine sense of involvement when necessary. Gun fights and helicopter bits worked best, as they filled the environment fairly effectively.
Audio quality seemed good but unexceptional as well. Speech sounded slightly flat at times, and I also noticed some slight edginess on occasion. However, mostly dialogue came across as acceptably natural and distinct, and I discerned no issues related to intelligibility. Music appeared nicely robust and lively. The score demonstrated bright highs and reasonably rich low-end. Effects also showed pretty solid bass, though those elements fell short of excellence. Effects also sounded clean and accurate and failed to demonstrate problems related to distortion. In the end, the soundtracks of Bad Company were positive, but they didnít match up with the better modern mixes.
Despite the high-profile nature of Bad Company, the DVD comes with almost no features. The main supplement offers a documentary look at the film. In Bad Company: An Inside Look lasts 11 minutes and 58 seconds as it provides the usual glossy featurette. We see movie snippets, shots from the set, and interviews with director Joel Schumacher, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and actors Chris Rock, Anthony Hopkins, Kerry Washington, Brooke Smith, Matthew Marsh, and Gabriel Macht. ďIn Bad CompanyĒ exists as nothing more than a promotional program. We hear how great Rock is. We hear how great Hopkins is. We hear how great Schumacher is. Get the picture? A few moderately interesting notes from the set appear, but overall, this offers a simple puff piece with little useful information.
In addition, the DVD offered some ads in the Sneak Peeks domain. This provided trailers for Frank McKlusky C.I., Reign of Fire, and Big Trouble. Confusingly, the package failed to include Companyís trailer itself.
Lastly, we find the THX Optimizer program. It purports to help you set up your home theater to best present the movie on the disc in question. Apparently the Optimizer is unique for each DVD on which itís included; unlike programs such as Video Essentials, the Optimizer should tweak your set-up differently every time. Frankly, Iíve been very happy with my already-established calibration and Iím afraid to muck with it, so Iíve never tried the Optimizer or the Optimode. If you lack calibration from Video Essentials or a similar program, or if youíre just more adventurous than I, the Optimizer could be a helpful addition.
Despite my moderate affection for the films produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, I definitely didnít care for Bad Company. It seemed like nothing more than a paycheck movie, one that enticed all involved for no reason other than to make some bucks. It offered nothing creative or engaging and left me cold. The DVD provided fairly positive picture and sound; it wonít compete for the best Iíve seen and heard, but it seemed fine as a whole. Unfortunately, the package included almost no supplements. Bad Company gave us a limp flick with little redeeming value. I canít even recommend it to fans of the performers or the genre.
Viewer Film Ratings: 2.8421 Stars|| Number of Votes: 19|