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Bad Company review

They say they don't make 'em like they used to, but High Concept Overlord Jerry Bruckheimer does. Here he comes then, regular as fries, with another vac-pack of identikit summer junk. If Bruckheimer movies were burgers they'd be Big Macs: formula-made, low on nourishment, ideal for hangovers and easy to forget you ever had one an hour after consumption. Granted, we need junk to remind us of the finer things in life, but what if you order a Big Mac and get a turkey leg instead?

Actually, a quick amendment. Bruckheimer remakes 'em like he used to. So, just as Coyote Ugly is really Flashdance and Days Of Thunder is pretty much Top Gun, so Bad Company is actually Beverly Hills Cop. Spotted the trend then? Original movie good. Retread lousy. Yet again, the blueprint's busted.

Held back after 11 September, the story goes that Bad Company was delayed due to incendiary terrorist content. But, short of the projectionist spontaneously combusting, it's hard to see just what heat could be generated by this lumpen, repetitive fate-of-the-free-world bunkum.

After his identical twin, who just happens to be an agent, is murdered trying to nab a black-market nuke, hustler sibling Chris Rock is hired by the CIA to finish the job. Anthony Hopkins gets nine days to train him. Slavic scumbags join the chase. Since all Bruckheimer movies are inherently stupid, it's not the pitch that's hard to swallow. It's the drowsy, prosaic treatment it gets.

Having retired to indieville to scrub away the studio skidmarks, it's depressing to see Joel Schumacher back to his hack-for-hire ways - especially when even he can't get himself worked up over the material. Say what you want about his fatheaded output, but at least they're not anonymous. Bad Company, however, is, crammed full of vanilla shoot-outs and milk-float car chases played out to a rent-a-hit soundtrack. Really, this could have been directed by anybody.

Which leaves us with a star vehicle that nobody is driving. On paper, Hopkins and Rock should offer some droll mentor/rookie dynamics - Pygmalion in a bullet-proof vest. On screen, it doesn't work. A graduate of the Eddie Murphy School Of Streetsmarts, Rock's hyper-jiving allows him to yammer crap like "CIA? Wassat mean? Crackers In my Ass?" This, of course, is very funny because he says "ass". Variations follow ("bullet in", "glass up", "kiss my"). Comedy doesn't. What the world doesn't need is another Chris Tucker.

As for Hopkins, be afraid: he's playing one of his men-of-few-words. If Rock tries too hard, Hopkins can't be arsed. Even when he's playing reserved, a hamminess still escapes (Hopkins even broods in stereo) but this time the enigma's deserted him. Worse still, it's Hopkins, not Rock, that gets to play action man, shifting with all the athletic grace of a constipated warthog in clogs. Clearly, Hopkins is too old for this shit. Same goes for the audience.

Chris Rock mugs it up. Anthony Hopkins phones it in. The event isn'thappening in this stillborn Bruckheimer misfire, a retrograde, too-long 'action-comedy' that slows the pulse.

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