Bait (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Robbins Recipe: "The Last Boy Scout" meets "In the Line of Fire"

This sure made it to DVD fast. It was still playing first-run only two months ago.

Comedy-actioner with Jamie Foxx. Jamie is a small-time crook in prison with the dying survivor of a successful Federal Reserve gold heist. Just before he dies, the gold thief gives Jamie a cryptic clue to pass on.


The rest of the film is a battle of wits between:
  • some T-men, who bug Jamie's body
  • a high-tech genius who was the other partner in the gold heist, and who also stalks Jamie electronically. Guy does a perfect John Malkovich impersionation, pretty much an homage to Malkovich taunting Clint Eastwood in "In the Line of Fire"
  • Jamie himself, who finally realizes that all the good and bad guys are eavesdropping on his life

This is a near-miss action film, with Jamie as the funny trash-talkin' street guy whose outward persona masks a guy of integrity and sensitivity. You know, the usual Bruce Willis crap. Think of Jamie as Willis with a really dark tan.

Jamie's character is funny, at least sporadically, and the direction is technically spectacular - an MTV video or TV commercial style of fashionably tinted scenes, dazzling fast cuts, slick music, indirect angles, dramatic chase scenes.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic. 2.35:1.

  • Only one feature: full length commentary from Jamie Foxx.

Actually, it's a pretty good action flick, not a masterpiece, but it deserved better reviews than it got. I think you'll find it satisfactory if you like the Willis action genre. It's a lot like The Last Boy Scout, with horse racing replacing football in the finale. (Roger Ebert gave it a good three star review, but he stood almost unaccompanied. )

The biggest weakness is that it drags on too long, slowed somewhat by an unimportant sub-plot involving Jamie's brother and some low-level thugs, all of which could easily have been chopped completely from the script.

The Critics Vote

  • Ebert 3/4, but he was pretty much the only critic who liked it.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 34% positive overall, only 14% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.8.
  • With their dollars ... it made a disappointing $15 million domestically. That's enough to make a success out of moderately budgeted films like the ones Altman or Woody Allen make, but this was made for $35 million, and was distributed to 2300 screens.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a solid C. It is a good comedy/action film which should please the people who like the old Willis movies.

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