What's the best way to make a bad actor better? Pair him up with the best. Anthony Hopkins is the best. But even Anthony Hopkins can't make Chris Rock's acting more palatable.
Rock's latest is Bad Company, a tired and cliche spy flick in which a hapless, chess playing, hustler (Rock) is recruited into the CIA to replace his slain twin brother. The mission? Buy nuclear arms, hunt down the terrorists, and stop them from blowing New York to kingdom come. Nothing particularly new there. Actually I can't think of anything at all new in this film anywhere. It's all rather old and tired... especially Hopkins who seems to look closer to death every time I see him. Bad Company goes out of it's way to portray him as a bad ass, while Hopkins works simultaneously to do the best Bob Hope impression I've ever seen.
I'm sure the idea here was to come up with some sort of "Men In Black chemistry" between Rock and Hopkins, relying on Rock to provide the humor and Hopkins to handle the heavy acting chops. Regrettably, Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins are about as interesting together as a set of salt and pepper shakers. One is white, the other is black... oh my how exciting! The "ghetto boy, white man" routine has been done plenty of times before and with scripts a lot better than this one. If you insist on putting Chris Rock in movies, I guess the suits behind Bad Company had the right idea. It stands to reason that pairing him with a veteran actor like Hopkins can only help. Except for Hopkins to add anything to the film, he needs to be given something to say. Something that is, beyond "yeah" and "well", and other one syllable words which seem to be just about all he is allowed to mutter throughout Bad Company's inconsistent journey. Chris Rock on the other hand, has plenty to say and all of it is gleefully recited in a halting monotone more suited to the likes of Dan Rather than the rantings of a man about to be blown sky high by a weapons grade nuclear weapon.
Look, Chris Rock is supremely funny. When he's cracking jokes he's great. But he cannot act. Not even a little. Not even with help. He has no talent. None. Zero. Stop letting him make movies! Give him a sketch comedy show, or just force him to perform more of his hilarious stand-up routines! He may be funny, but movies are not for him.
No matter. Bad Company would be bad business no matter who was in it. Oh, there are a few moments of fun; all of which involve Chris Rock cracking jokes, at Hopkins expense. But there's a lot of useless filler and retreaded action spread in between. None of it is very good, and I was easily distracted from it as I struggled to believe fat, waddling Anthony Hopkins as some sort of uber-agent with a killer punch. His backup squad of miscellaneous CIA white guys is far more believable in their action sequences. Perhaps this is why so much of the film is spent watching fight scenes between background characters with forgettable names engaged in hand to hand combat unrelated to the plot at hand.
Bad Company is bearable only because Rock is given enough space to deliver catchy one liners. I'm not sure that justifies making a big budget action flick. There are plenty of other ways to generate excuses for Chris Rock to be funny without besmirching the name of Anthony Hopkins. Next time, lets let the funny man flop on his own and leave more talented actors to find better company.