Bait

A veteran of such questionable fare as Held Up, The Players Club, Booty Call, and the criminally overrated In Living Color, Jamie Foxx has risen to near-superstardom despite his frequently terrible choice of roles. Foxx's shtick (a motor-mouthed hustler whose comic bravado is constantly undermined) isn't particularly original, but his performances possess spontaneity and irreverence that make him likable. An action-comedy so formulaic it could have been generated by a computer, Bait smothers that gleeful spontaneity under layers of contrivance and manipulation. Foxx stars as a small-time thief who shares a jail cell with Robert Pastorelli, a noble crook who conveniently dies after stealing $42 million in gold for Doug Hutchison, an evil computer genius capable of tapping into any and all government computers. Hutchison has no idea where Pastorelli buried the gold, so the treasury department, led by gruff agent David Morse, covertly springs Foxx and uses him as bait, a move that plays havoc with Foxx's frantic life. Of course, if Hutchison were anywhere near as brilliant as the film makes him out to be, he could make an even larger fortune without ever leaving his computer, but, like everyone else in Bait, he's only as smart or stupid as the plot requires him to be at any given moment. Although hampered by a script that seems cobbled together from fragments of other movies—most recently and blatantly Enemy Of the State—Foxx manages a few nice moments: His scenes with estranged girlfriend Kimberly Elise are poignant and effective enough to suggest that the couple's relationship should have been better developed. Morse and Hutchison, on the other hand, both play inferior variations on characters from superior films, Hutchison an effeminately menacing psycho a la John Malkovich's In The Line Of Fire villain and Morse a poor man's version of Tommy Lee Jones' gruff detective from The Fugitive. Foxx has presence and potential, but he deserves better material than Bait, a generic exercise that views its characters as pawns at the mercy of an unwieldy and unconvincing plot.

Filed Under: Film

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