Twin tedium

One of the points the events of September 11 proved is that the United States’s security intelligence isn’t half as good as its movies make it out to be. Or to put it in another crueller way: Arab terrorists aren’t half as incompetent as they’re portrayed in Bad Company, a techno-orgasm by über-producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

So why, apart from the obvious motive of making bucks, did he have this film made? Is it to keep the dream machine alive? Can the US not take too much reality? Is it really true that by later that day there wasn’t a single Die Hard video to be found in a store — nationwide?

Bruckheimer gets that master of the genre stew, Noel Schumacher, to mix the following into his pot: two name actors, an exotic location like Prague for production value, a very loud soundtrack by South African-born Trevor Rabin, and a lot of surly Slavs with thick accents and designer stubble to show us just how cruel man can be towards man in the city that did, after all, produce Franz Kafka.

Oh, and a story by a bunch of guys who sound like a New York firm of attorneys: Richman, Browning, Goodman and Himmelstein.

There’s the CIA, you see, which is trying to buy a nuclear bomb of the suitcase variety, presumably to keep it safe in and for the West. But during a Catholic procession those double-crossing Yugoslav bastards kill CIA agent Kevin Pope (Chris Rock), who expires in the arms of his senior handler, Oakes (the ever-unexcitable Anthony Hopkins).

That takes care of the first five minutes; only another action-packed 110 to go.

Fortunately Pope has a twin brother he never knew in the chess-playing, motor-mouthed Central Park hustler, Jake Hayes (ditto). Enter Oakes, who offers a broke Hayes a fortune to learn Czech and basically save the world in nine days. For if the suitcase is not recovered by the CIA, some triple-crossing Russian (it always comes down to those evil Ruskos) is going to blast the capital of the world to kingdom come. Take a wild guess what happens next.

The funny thing is that the Russian actually says what Noam Chomsky has been whining about for years

and Sam Nujoma indirectly frothed about at the World Summit. That is, that the US thinks it can dictate to the world what it should do while polluting and starving it. For that profoundly moving insight the man doesn’t get the Nobel Peace prize or an Oscar. Instead he gets a bullet from Bond. Anthony Bond.

Hopkins looks ridiculous in his peak cap, dark glasses and ever-present toothpick. His assistants look much more able than he does, except they aren’t really given the chance to do much. The single CIA female, who looks like a Steffi Graf clone played by Brooke Smith, has no character at all, while the other handsome assistant, played by Gabriel Macht (German for power, incidentally), at least gets a fight sequence. As for the overweight Hopkins, his character has a smidgen of conscience, but when he runs he looks like a charging albino walrus.

Rock’s first, serious persona just doesn’t work; you can’t help expecting him to burst into a salvo of street rap at any moment. His second persona takes a while to hot up and then at least gets cracking with some sharp jokes, though all at the wrong times. As for director Schumacher, he seems to have a thing about armed men in black latex suits and helmets charging up and down flights of stairs, as he even did in the supposedly straight-gay friendship drama, Flawless.

Does anybody really still have fun watching two thespians — the one too old and the other a comedian who is still learning to act — in this kind of propaganda by wishful thinking? Obviously.

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