Mike Kueber's Blog

March 10, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies #14 – Bad Company

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 4:26 am
Tags: , , ,

My first Netflix DVD was a 1995 movie called Bad Company, starring Ellen Barkin, Laurence Fishburne, Frank Langella, and David Ogden Stiers.  I selected it because many years ago I saw a snippet of a love scene between Barkin and Fishburne that sizzled in this R rated movie.  All these years later, the sizzle is still there.

Critics classify Bad Company as a neo-noir thriller film.  That means it is a modern version of the “film noir” genre, which according to Wikipedia comprised crime dramas or psychological thrillers of the 40s and 50s with conflicted antiheroes trapped in difficult situations and making choices out of desperation or nihilistic moral systems.  That’s a pretty good description of Barkin, Fishburne, et al. in this movie, which is set in Seattle and involves past and present CIA operatives who are engaged in panoply of dirty tricks (blackmail, corporate espionage).  Not unlike Nixon’s plumber’s unit, this agency is called The Toolshed.

I was tempted to call Bad Company a sleeper hit until I read that it cost $50 million to make, yet brought in less than $4 million from the box office.  And Rotten Tomatoes gave it only 27% from critics and 37% from the public.  That is consistent with a 5.2 out of 10 rating from IMDb.

But the most famous film critic of them all, Roger Ebert, gave Bad Company a 3.5 out of four:

  • Bad Company is a thriller of extravagant complexity, a thinking man’s Grisham film. It is about smart, ruthless people who once worked for the CIA and now engage in free-lance espionage. They are greedy, relentless and willing to kill, and of course they are expensively dressed and housed; these are the kinds of people who touch themselves as if afraid of leaving prints.

Some critics say that there is no one to like in this movie.  Call me a cynic, but I liked the characters of both Barkin and Fishburne.  I give it four stars.


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