The Company

Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock? I think not!

Take one of the most suave and steely actors to come out of England. Pit him against one of the new breed of loud-mouthed comic actors to come from the rough streets of the Big Apple. Throw in a nuclear bomb, dead secret agents and double-crosses...and you’re sure to land up in "Bad Company".

The film starts in the old-world charm of Prague, where Michael Turner (Chris Rock) is introducing his friend (Anthony Hopkins) as a potential buyer to a Russian consortium which happens to have a thermonuclear device that neatly fits into a suitcase. After the preliminaries, all parties go their own way. Except that Michael is ambushed by unknown assailants and is killed while trying to save Hopkins.

Now, Hopkins and his team (who are actually CIA) have to somehow find a replacement for Michael (real name Kevin Pope) in nine days, or else the deal will fall through and the bomb goes to mercenary buyers. Bring forward Exhibit A - Jack Hayes, Kevin’s twin brother, a loud-mouthed, cash-strapped hustler from New Jersey. So, Hopkins (Mr. Oakes from now on) convinces Jack to fill in. However, he leaves out certain salient the level of danger involved. Then follows one of those typical unconvincing sessions of watching tapes and mimicking the other and voila! Jack turns into Kevin who has to play Michael.

However, the assassins are still out there...and after the good guys. So, an aborted attempt on Jack’s life ensues, following which he disappears. After a long hunt, Oakes finally manages to track him down and convince him to return to the fold. So now, everybody’s getting ready for the final showdown. But a triple cross ensues and the nuclear bomb disappears into the hands of the mercenaries. But they need Jack to unlock the codes and so another tortuous cloak-and-dagger sequence starts.

The story is quite clichéd, but there are a few modifications to keep the audience interested. But the brisk pace of the film covers up these few flaws. Of course, the constant panoramic views of Prague help too. The plot takes one turn too many, however, and the end is just a bit unconvincing. There are too many unnecessary asides thrown in and what makes them irritating is that there’s no follow-up to them.

The acting revolves around the two marquee names. Unfortunately, this particular pairing of "steady-dude-meets-loudmouth comic" doesn’t live up to the hype. Hopkins is convincing when he plays the dapper agent, but dressed in a baseball cap and leather jacket, chewing a toothpick while picking off snipers? Gimme a break! Rock has a few decent lines and the repartee between the two is occasionally interesting. But not all the time. It’s almost as if both of them know they aren’t really fit for the role and so haven’t given it their best shot. The others end up hamming quite a bit and just fill in.

Here's a film with a lot of potential, but it turns into one of those flicks you watch when there’s nothing better around. Delivers a few laughs, but that’s about it.

This article was first published on 02 Jul 2002.