With Jamie Foxx showing, with Ray (2004), that he actually can be good at this acting thing when he wants to, it’s caused me to take more notice when I come across a film of his I haven’t seen. So, when Bait popped up recently on NetFlix® Instant Queue, I figured I’d give it a shot.
Would Foxx be able to impress in this action comedy, or should I have kept on scrolling?
While Foxx has proved he’s up for dramatic roles, he started off in comedy, and Bait helps bridge that gap between comedy and action for him, allowing him to get his foot in the door for more serious roles. As a small-time hustler, he quickly gets in way over his head, and his sense of humor – his only real defense – helps keep him treading water. He’s solid as the small-time crook, and his comedic timing serves him – and the viewer – well, helping break the tension.
And that tension needs breaking on occasion, thanks to David Morse’s major role as a hard-boiled chief investigator. Morse, as usual, is excellent at portraying an obsessive single-minded character that keeps a solid intensity throughout the film. With every action, he makes it known early on his only goal in life is tracking down Bristol, the elusive villain, and the viewer never doubts it for a second.
Doug Hutchison, playing the villain of the pic, seems to be doing his best to channel John Malkovich from In the Line of Fire, even down to the whispered strain in his voice. It’s an odd choice, as In the Line of Fire is easily a much more gripping thriller than Bait, thus leaving the viewer with a slightly bad impression of this film. Is it just trying to latch onto the success of In the Line of Fire and ride the comparison into box office success, or is it just coincidence? Sadly, when Hutchison’s performance fails to even hold a candle to Malkovich’s, the comparisons are all against Bait.
Antoine Fuqua, known for high-powered action pics like The Replacement Killers (1998), does a good job blending comedy and action to create a more down-to-earth version of Enemy of the State (1998). Sure, it’s got the same sort of high-tech surveillance theme, but Bait has a less-polished feel, and it works for the film…to an extent.
Unfortunately, combining the villain from In the Line of Fire with the high-tech gadgetry of Enemy of the State (1998) makes Bait feel like more of a rehash of old ideas rather than anything especially original.
Still, with Fuqua playing up both Foxx’s and Morse’s strong points, Bait, while not really imaginative, does have some decent points (including Mike Epps playing a wannabe player who happens to be related to Foxx), and isn’t as disappointing as it could have been. Still, it’s far beneath the level of In the Line of Fire and Enemy of the State (1998), where most of it’s inspiration seems to have come from.