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BAD COMPANY

By GUY FLATLEY

CAST: Anthony Hopkins, Chris Rock, Matthew Marsh, Gabriel Macht, Kerry Washington, Adoni Maropis, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, Peter Stormare, Brooke Smith, Dragan Micanovic, John Slattery

DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher

SCREENWRITERS: Jason Richman and Michael Browning



"Three minutes...and it's goodbye, New York!" If this line--spoken as a clock in the bowels of Grand Central Station ticks toward nuclear annihilation--strikes you as amusing, by all means check out Joel Schumacher's anything-for-a-laugh thriller about an odd-couple of CIA agents trying to defuse an exotic, dogma-spouting suicide bomber right here in our own hometown. Personally, I'd rather spend a weekend at Guantanamo Bay than re-experience a single frame of this loathsome, faux patriotic, badly acted, sloppily directed obscenity.

I said odd couple, but I should have said odd trio. One member of the team is Anthony Hopkins, insufferably smug as a jaundiced operative who keeps his cool even as he is being pursued, Keystone Kops style, across the Czech countryside by carloads of crazed terrorists. (Hopkins probably didn't fully open his eyes until payday rolled around). The other two agents are both Chris Rock. Rock number one is Hopkins' junior partner, a suave connoisseur of fine wines and fiery women, who is terminated one rambunctious evening in Prague while protecting his superior's life. Rock number two is Rock number one's identical twin, a fast-talking New York ticket scalper and all-around hustler who didn't even know he had a brother. The boys from the CIA wise up the surviving sib and make him an offer he can't refuse--or even understand. For an impressive wad of dough, they want him to do a quick study of tapes made of his brother, learn to think and talk precisely like him, travel to Prague (and other picturesque trouble spots) and accomplish his bro's mission of permanently calming down a deranged assassin from the former Yugoslavia and removing a nuclear bomb from the clutches of a mad Russian. And he has only nine days before the bomb goes boom.

I won't say if anyone gets nuked, but you'd better believe that plenty get punched, gutted, shot and slaughtered. So what did you expect? This is slapstick terrorism, after all--a whole new genere that can't be pulled off without a little bloodshed. (You could argue that "Bad Company" was completed before 9/11, so the filmmakers bear no responsibility for their appallingly bad taste, but I don't buy that.) The question is, should the insensitive clods go unpunished? Certainly not. For their penance, I suggest Hopkins play Chekhov for a full season in Crawford, Texas. As for Rock, he should do standup somewhere in the vicinity of Ground Zero.