CIA agent Michael Turner is killed in the middle of an important mission. The CIA pulls in the twin brother nobody knew about - including the brothers themselves - from the Jersey streets to finish the mission. Kevin Pope is the man thrust from selling event tickets on the sly to imitating an antique dealer who just happens to be trying to buy a suitcase-sized nuclear bomb. And guess what, it looks like a suitcase. Throw in a group of terrorists, Kevin's girlfriend, and an extremely optimistic week of training, and that's the film.
If I'd known this was a Jerry Bruckheimer film, would I have watched it anyway? The film displays some of the typical strengths and flaws of a Bruckheimer production - heavy on action, and highly accessible in-jokes, but weak on character development and any real meaning to what we're seeing. His films are chancy endeavors to begin with, dependent on spectacle to succeed, and here in the spy genre, subtlety and character are essential.
The mechanics of the plot are flawed. A big part of the film depends on Kevin's cover getting blown. Well, of course it's blown because despite all the warnings, even the CIA agents are glib about his real identity. They have to pin it on a careless phone call, but with all the rib-elbowing going on, everyone should have been shot coming through one doorway or another.
The chess analogies! Geez. Simply bad. They exist primarily for Kevin Pope to have something to say that seems intelligent. There is this dichotomy between the two Chris Rock characters - the suave sophisticated Turner sounds false, as if Rock is trying too hard to create a completely different character. I never bought them as different anyway - when Pope pretends to be Turner, it feels just like Rock trying on some anti-Rock persona. Fortunately, we don't see much of Turner, too many reminders would simply get painful.
Rock's pair of brothers are teamed up by lead agent Oakes, played by Anthony Hopkins. He's alright, but doesn't have the depth of character appropriate for the amount of screen time he has. I get that his personal life is off limits here, but that doesn't mean he has no quirks or opinions that affect his actions.
The other problem is that it's too easy. Kevin is continually pressed forward by forces he has no control over. Then why is the story from his point of view? Why not Oakes, or even the criminal mastermind (oops, he gets killed off fairly early - that won't work)? Kevin is the focus because we have a fish-out-of-water film, and nothing more. Something like XXX is similar in idea, but gives us a lot more to chew on, and is therefore a lot more fun to watch.
As I said, it's a Bruckheimer production, and that means action. Here, unfortunately, the action is mostly a rehash of things we've seen before. There's one great chase scene involving the suitcase and driving through fields. It's purely impossible how it happens, but there is at least some fun and inventiveness about it. You could have split out this one section as a fight over luggage for a decent short, but it's not enough for this kind of feature. But let's face it, there's not enough of a lot of things for Bad Company at all.
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