Looking back at Joel Schumacher’s Bad Company

After the critically praised Tigerland, Joel Schumacher returned with the action misfire Bad Company. Carley looks back with a shudder...

Joel Schumacher’s  Bad Company (2002)

“You got the wrong guy. I don’t even have a brother. That’s just a picture of me in a suit. You could’ve got that off the internet. I saw a picture of Bill Gates with three titties on the net.” – Jake

The Recap

After gaining back some credibility with the war-driven Tigerland, Joel Schumacher then decided it was time to return to the action genre, and surely you can’t go wrong with a movie that had a huge comedy star and an Oscar winner as its leads?

After a mission to retrieve a suitcase with a deadly bomb inside goes horribly wrong, CIA agent Kevin Pope (Chris Rock) is killed. Not wanting to blow his cover and wanting to complete the mission, the CIA recruits Kevin’s twin brother, Jake Hayes (also Chris Rock. See what they did there?). The two were separated at birth and couldn’t be more different, as Jake makes his money by doing small time cons and working at seedy clubs.

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After his girlfriend Julia (Kerry Washington) leaves him, it doesn’t take long for the CIA to persuade Jake to step into his brother’s shoes, and he begins training for his first mission to Prague.

Unimpressed with his lack of refinement, basic social skills and unwillingness to learn, lead agent Oakes (Anthony Hopkins) lets Jake know he doesn’t trust him and doesn’t think he is up to the job.

This makes Jake work harder, but he’s soon unnerved when he’s used as bait to lure the men who killed his brother. After he manages to escape unhurt, he runs back to his foster mother’s house to hide. He is soon found by Oakes who encourages him to finish the mission, and Jake agrees.

After arriving in Prague, Jake and Oakes meet with the man selling the bomb, Adrik Vas, who is ex-KGB and also linked to the Russian Mafia.

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After stealing the arming codes, the two almost come to a deal with Adrik, who is then double-crossed by his men, and gives the bomb to a rival buyer Andre.

When Andre realises he doesn’t have the codes to arm the bomb, he kidnaps Jake’s ex-girlfriend, Julia, to ensure Jake gives them the codes, which he does.

With the clock ticking, Oakes must find Jake and the bomb, and after interrogating some of the captured terrorists, tracks them both down to Grand Central Station.

After a shootout, the two manage to disarm the bomb just before it explodes. As the film concludes, a firm friendship between the two is formed.

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Thoughts & Reaction

As I mentioned at the start of this piece, I am sure when Schumacher signed on to this project he thought he was onto a bit of a winner. Firstly, you have two big star names along with Jerry Bruckheimer producing, and surely everybody loves a ‘let’s blow up New York’ action movie, don’t they?

Well, they did before 9/11. Bad Company was one of the movies that was affected in the tragedy’s aftermath, having its release date shifted from December 2001 to June 2002 so as not to upset anybody during that period of high emotion. Having said that, however, you cannot blame this push on how the film eventually did, because it is,, in fact one of the worst movies I have ever had the misfortune to sit through.

I’ll start with the story, or lack thereof. I can almost see the writers (and there were four of them at work on this drivel) sitting in a room thinking they’d hit the jackpot with this idea: two twins who don’t know about each other, one clever, one not so much, and after one dies the other has to take his place! It’s amazing! I can smell box office success!

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Oh, hang on. Let’s write a sort of Sean Connery in The Rock-type role and get somebody like Anthony Hopkins to star in it! And that, basically, is the entire concept of the story.

Although with action movies you do have to suspend your disbelief ever so slightly, this movie ensures it needs to take a flying jump out of a very tall building for anything to be feasible.

There is little to no pace in the story, one unbelievable cliché follows another, and I was irritated and angry by the lazy, sloppy storytelling.

Added to the sloppy storytelling was sloppy and uninteresting acting. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know he’s made a few stinkers, but Chris Rock is not that awful an actor. At the same time, he’s not Eddie Murphy either, and trying to almost be like Murphy in his most iconic role of Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop doesn’t come across very well on the big screen. It makes me wish Rock would just stick to stand-up comedy (which he does amazingly), and forget the acting career.

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Exactly the same can be said for Hopkins and, in all honesty, I can only imagine the reason he signed up for this pile of tripe was because there was a big paycheque at the end. His performance was wooden in most parts and diabolical in others, and, unless he’s about to eat a bit of Chris Rock’s liver with some fava beans, I don’t want to know.

Schumacher’s visual style is his only signature on the piece, as the rest is dominated with the boom, bang, smack of producer Bruckheimer (so much so, in fact, that I was surprised a giant asteroid with Bruce Willis stuck on the side didn’t make an appearance).

He appears to have given up with the content and was happy enough to make it look nice, which, in fairness, it does, and is probably the only redeeming feature of this mess.

When the movie did finally get its release, it was mauled by critics, achieved a terrible opening weekend, and promptly dropped out of the box office charts and into the bucket of truly awful movies.

Schumacher’s next movie would again be pushed due to the subject matter being prevalent in the news, but would turn out to be a surprise (and much needed) box office hit for him.

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Next time I will be looking at Phone Booth.

Bad Company Key Info:

Released: 7th June 2002 (US) / 12th July 2002 (UK)Distributed By: Touchstone PicturesBudget: $70,000,000Box Office Gross: $65,977,295Best DVD Edition: Bad Company DVD