Bad Company
2 1/2 stars

by Stephen Notley

Holly wood is always messing around with chemistry, and never so much as when it tries to put two stars together to create a Buddy Movie. Sometimes they get gold or silver, like Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, or sometimes they end up with tin, as with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in Rush Hour. Now we face the latest bubbling flask of goo, Bad Company, which hopes to produce the sweet sweet gold by cramming together Chris Rock and legendary funnyman Anthony Hopkins.

But there are a couple of other Chemicals X in the goo to consider as well. First off, Bad Company is a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. You may remember Bruckheimer from such films as Armageddon and The Rock, movies with big, awkwardly-edited action and huge gasoline-powered explosions. Okay, that's cool, Chris Rock, Anthony Hopkins, lots of big explosions... could be entertaining.

However, compared to past Bruckheimer movies, Bad Company almost comes across as a quaint, quiet little drawing-room comedy. It shocks me to report that there is not a single explosion in the entire movie. Not one. Of course, a movie doesn't have to have explosions to be good, but a *Jerry Bruckheimer* movie? And sure, there's a car chase, and some indifferently staged gunfights, but come on -- explosions!

This de-emphasis on action can be blamed pretty directly on the last major variable, director Joel Schumacher, most infamously known for the hated Batman and Robin. Originally a costume designer, Schumacher seems to have decided that the thing in the movie he's most interested in is getting good footage of Prague. And to give him credit, there's a lot of nice Prauge photography, all warm and golden-hued, especially in contrast to the grey-blue color of all the American scenes.

But the film, the story, the action, the characters? Eh. Not so important.

So with a director who wants to keep things cool and a producer who likes them hot, you end up with a swimmy tepid goo of stuff for Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins to murk around in. Nothing compelling, but you do get to see them in action, and they are stars, so they should be watchable.

And, to a 2 1/2-star degree, they are. The reason to see this movie, if there is one, is Chris Rock. He plays Jake Isaac, a smart street hustler who is told, preposterously, that he has a secret twin, the twin was a CIA agent, and the twin is now dead, so the CIA needs Jake to step in and pretend to be him. Ridiculous, and that's not even the worst plotting in the movie. Nonetheless, Rock jumps in and applies his considerable talent to making this silly role work. The angle he plays is Jake's intelligence, and it's good for some laughs as he spars with the frosty Anthony Hopkins, thinking on his feet and bouncing a couple of moves ahead. At the same time, sadly, he also has a handful of embarassing scenes like the car chase that he spends doing a lot of terrified screaming that doesn't do him or the audience any good.

Hopkins, for his part, does Hopkins -- stolid, unflappable, almost bored. But comedy Grade-A buddy movie laughs? Not really.

So, to sum up: Bad Company, a mishmash of not-too-compelling elements, some watcahble performances from the two stars, and no explosions. Go see Y Tu Mama Tambien instead.