It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Hard on the heels of "The Sum of All Fears," here's Jerry Bruckheimer's "Bad Company," another movie about an American city threatened by the explosion of a stolen nuclear device. This one is an action comedy. There may come a day when the smiles fade. To be sure, the movie was made before 9/11 (and its original autumn 2001 release was delayed for obvious reasons), but even before 9/11 it was clear that nuclear terrorism was a real possibility. While "The Sum of all Fears" deals in a quasi-serious way with the subject (up until the astonishingly inappropriate ending), "Bad Company" is more light-hearted. Ho, ho.
The nuclear device is really only the McGuffin. It could be anything, as long as bad guys want it and good guys fight to keep them from it. The movie's a collision between three durable genres: Misfit Partners, Fish Out of Water and Mistaken Identity. After an opening scene in which the Chris Rock character is killed, we learn that he had a twin brother named Jake Hayes; the babies were separated at birth and never knew about each other. The first was adopted by a rich family, went to Ivy League schools, and joined the CIA. Jake is a ticket scalper and chess hustler who's in love with a nursing student (Kerry Washington).
One problem with the movie, directed by Joel Schumacher, is that it jams too many prefabricated story elements into the running time. Consider the training sequence, in which Rock has nine days to perfect the mannerisms and absorb the knowledge of his dead brother. Odd that most of the coaching sessions have him learning to recognize fine vintages of wine and evaluate ancient cognacs; is he going to be dining with the terrorists? Meanwhile, he's apparently expected to learn to speak Czech from a dictionary tossed onto his bunk.
His minder at the CIA is Gaylord Oakes (Anthony Hopkins), a spookily calm veteran operative whose plan is to substitute this twin for the other in a sting operation designed to buy a stolen nuclear device. When another would-be buyer enters the picture, the film descends into a series of chase scenes, which are well enough done, but too many and too long.