There was a time not too long ago when hands-on megaproducer Jerry Bruckheimer took a certain pleasure in blowing the bejesus outta planes, trains, and automobiles. Cock-measuring classics The Rock and Con Air were far from being acting (or writing or editing or…) clinics, but there was a definite guilty thrill watching such venerable celluloid heroes as Sean Connery and John Malkovich plowing a Hummer through the streets of San Francisco or riding a runaway cargo plane into the lobby of a Sin City casino. But then Bruckheimer grew the Hollywood version of a conscience and tried to make his explosions matter. And the resultant so-called serious endeavors, Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down, no matter how lovely the swirling fireballs within, just rang false. So it should be good news for kaboom-minded guys’-night-outers that the movie mogul, responsible for such other crowd-pleasing fare as Bad Boys, Crimson Tide, and Enemy of the State, is back to creating metallic carnage just for the macho fun of it. Tough shit, men: The new Bad Company, starring Chris Rock as a streetwise ticket scalper who is financially enticed by CIA veteran Anthony Hopkins to help save the world, is altogether devoid of the glossy visuals, silly banter, and deliciously over-the-top action sequences found in Bruckheimer’s earlier efforts. Instead, the bloated film, lifelessly directed by preening hack Joel (St. Elmo’s Fire) Schumacher, ambles along at a spiritless pace, delivering absolutely none of the entertaining requisites of a bang-bang summertime buddy flick. Rock plays Jake Hayes, who, much to his wide-grinning ignorance, is the twin brother of a spy recently killed on a botched mission intended to unload suitcase nukes from a maniacal Czech arms dealer (a typically hammy Peter Stormare). Hopkins’ Gaylord Oakes decides that the only way to get the dangerous deal done is to morph Hayes—in a mere eight days—into his James Bond-like brother. The training leading up to the mission, not to mention the lackluster mission itself, is listless and thin, and character and plot continuity are near-nonexistent. At its worst, Bad Company is My Fair Lady with gunplay, an insulting primer on how to turn a well-meaning blue-collar black man into not a secret agent but an upper-crust white snob. Rock, a tough guy to make unfunny, is reduced to a shrieking ninny who fumbles his lukewarm one-liners, and Hopkins—poor, poor Hopkins—simply looks miserable and old, with nary a clever line to deliver but a nice fat paycheck to cash. A former art director, Schumacher—who makes loyal Bruckheimer helmers Simon West and Michael Bay look positively Scorsesean—provides nothing of interest to gawk at, which is an impressive feat seeing as how most of the movie was filmed in and around the spectacular city of Prague. Bruckheimer is known for manhandling almost every facet of his films, and you’d think he could have added some extra oomph to an extended car chase through Czech hops fields or the final shootout in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. But with this all-out dud, the usually crack-shot producer is simply firing blanks. —Sean Daly

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