Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Written by: Jason Richman & Michael Browning
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Chris Rock, Gabriel Macht, Peter Stormare, Kerry Washington
Sometimes a film hits you at the right time and your love for it will never change no matter how much you can see its lack of quality. Everyone has those and without a doubt, Bad Company falls and will remain firmly in that category. Despite its many faults, I will never disavow it as a film that I thoroughly enjoy.
Jake Hayes (Chris Rock) lives in New York City hustling, playing chess, selling scalped tickets, and working as a DJ. After news that his girlfriend plans to move to Seattle, he’s approached by CIA agent, Oakes (Anthony Hopkins) stating that they need him to stand in for his twin brother, who was helping them with a critical mission. Not knowing he had a twin brother, Jake agrees to help for a price.
My history with Bad Company began with my mother buying the DVD and watching it as a young teen. I instantly loved it. I continually watched a couple of times a year but reflecting upon it now with watching more films, I can see what made it not succeed or garner much acclaim. However, reader, I am here to tell you that I do not care. Even with its ridiculous plot and shoddy storytelling, this film still has plenty to enjoy if you buy into its ridiculousness.
The plot of the story lives on just how dumb it can get. It follows the almost-soap opera storyline of separated twins living different lives because they’re raised by different parents. The nature vs. nurture aspect of the story would be better if not for the troubling turn it takes with how it differentiates between Jake and his twin, Kevin. Jake has this more rugged attitude, living through hustling others and not being able to support his girlfriend. He listens to hip-hop and R&B as well as talking without the greatest vocabulary. Kevin serves as the opposite of being a composed man, who listens to classical music, eats refined foods and represents a proper gentleman. It would serve as a comedic juxtaposition if not for the story being written and directed by white men. The perception that the character of Jake feels “less than” because of some stereotypes does leave a bit of a bad taste in the mouth.
The character of Jake works solely because of the comedic prowess of Chris Rock. He stretches the dialogue he’s given as far as it can possibly go. The introduction of this character establishes that he has street smarts and a different intelligence than what the CIA expected from his brother. He’s a person who cares about his girlfriend but cannot commit, which leads to the sequence in a club where the patrons expect some quick-paced tunes and he puts on “All Out of Love” by Air Supply. His introduction to the CIA includes some boot camp style of training to ensure he can step in as his twin brother.
The rest of the story plays out in this substitution and that is where Anthony Hopkins as Oakes begins to shine as he served as a guide and handler for Jake. Their moments together provide the film’s best moments. Hopkins’s work as Oakes would not be even near his top 30 best performances but he does well serving as a serious counter to Jake’s misadventures in being a CIA agent.
With some intense gunfire and chase sequences, I really enjoyed the score of the film. It elevated everything happening on screen, added some intensity, and defined the tone of the narrative. Having a story this preposterous with an actor like Chris Rock, one would think that this film would have more comedy in it. Bad Company, instead takes itself very seriously, which comes from the score mentioned already but with the rest of the content. Laughs arise because of Chris Rock but the rest of the story feels overly dramatic, which may have prevented others from enjoying it. The tone feels off for everything that surrounds the story. Everything could have taken a comedic slant to it, but instead, the serious nature comes off worse.
For everything wrong with the film, I mean it was directed by Joel Schumacher after all, I always enjoy popping this on and going for the ridiculous ride. This might be purely driven by nostalgia, but I find the relationship between Oakes and Jake to be endearing, as they balance each other out. It could definitely be much better, but sometimes you have to enjoy a move for what it is.