Starring: Chris Rock, Anthony Hopkins, Gabriel Macht, Kerry Washington, Peter Stormare, Brooke Smith, Daniel Sunjata, John Slattery
Directed By: Joel Schumacher
Plot: Kevin (Rock) is a CIA operative operating under the alias Michael Turner, helping his partner (Hopkins) obtain a nuclear device from terrorists. Unfortunately, he is killed by rival buyers, leaving the CIA with no other option than to seek out his identical twin brother to take his place. Jake (also Rock) is a street hustler who gets in way over his head when he agrees to help save the world… for a little bit of cash, of course.
What Works: So, in full disclosure, I think this was actually my third time watching this film. It’s one of those films that I know everyone makes fun of, and we’re all supposed to hate. It has a 10% Rotten Tomatoes score. I just don’t think that’s a fair score. I enjoy watching this film, obviously otherwise I wouldn’t have watched it three times. Is it perfect? No. Is it a lot of fun? I think so. I think Rock and Hopkins make this a fun film, and Schumacher does a good job directing a competent action film. Really, I think this film comes down to “do you enjoy Chris Rock?” If you do, you’ll probably like this film. Even though this is PG-13 Chris Rock, and he can’t curse, he’s still funny. I also love Anthony Hopkins. He’s one of my favorite actors, and he definitely added to my overall enjoyment of the film. It’s crazy looking back on this film and seeing so many recognizable faces in supporting roles. Even Michael Ealy pops up for two seconds in a very brief, non-essential role. Even on the third viewing, I still really enjoyed myself.
What Doesn’t Work: So, this film does have some problems. I think when Rock is playing Kevin, he doesn’t quite have the acting skills, so there’s something very odd about his portrayal of a more straight laced character. When he’s Jake, he’s in his home court. Also, this film does run a bit longer than it probably should, and probably could drop five minutes and be a tighter film. There are definitely some plot points that don’t make any sense, but don’t we usually forgive those in action films? I came here for the action and the comedy, and if the plot gets a little silly, I can ignore it a bit because the stuff I came for is working.
Final Word: I read some reviews that say Hopkins phoned it in. I didn’t get that at all from his performance. I think we’re just not used to seeing Hopkins in a more comedic role, so we’re not really sure what that looks like. I thought he did a good job here, and he basically plays the straight man to Rock’s character. If they were both silly, we’d have Rush Hour or something like that. This has a much more serious tone than Rush Hour, and it’s able to do that because Rock is the only “comedic” character in the film. After 15 years, this film still looked really good, and didn’t feel like it had aged poorly over time. Maybe this is a guilty pleasure for me, but it’s one that I don’t feel guilty for enjoying. Sometimes, I enjoy a film and I can understand why critics hated it, but at times I enjoy a film and I don’t understand why critics hated it. This is the latter. I think a 10% isn’t indicative of the potential this film has to entertain you. The IMDB and Metacritc scores are both a bit higher, but neither are what I would call positive. I guess I’m just going against the grain here. Screw it.
Final Grade: B+