Jamie Foxx (Any Given Sunday) and David Morse (The Rock, The Negotiator) star in a decent action vehicle directed by Antoine Fuqua (The Replacement Killers). Foxx stars as Alvin Sanders, a common crook with extraordinary talents when he puts his mind to it. Morse plays the hard-nosed federal agent Edgar Clenteen who definitely doesn’t know how to show sympathy or compassion to anyone, especially in the first third of the film.
Alvin and Edgar cross paths when an evil computer genius named Bristol becomes the focus of Edgar’s investigation and Alvin becomes an unconventional “tool” used to draw out Bristol. Bristol (Doug Hutchison) breaks into an extremely secure government facility and “offs” two federal officers in the process. Alvin becomes an unwilling “guinea pig” in this investigation and eventually turns the situation to his favor with intuitive thinking. The Bristol’s partner, John, played by Robert Pastorelli (Eraser, Michael) provides valuable information to the characters and Alvin’s girlfriend, Lisa, played by Kimberly Elise (Set It Off, Beloved) gives the plot some needed drama. David Paymer (Payback, Mighty Joe Young) also plays one of Edgar’s fellow agents, Wooly.
It’s too bad Alvin plays the only smart character in the film. The police are especially inept at decision-making and predictable. An agent stupidly tastes material on the floor when another agent asks him if it’s poison. Hasty decisions during a rescue attempt cost many agents their lives. You may scoff at the characters because these types of decisions only take a little common sense and caution. If Edgar’s so smart, then why does he believe what a criminal says and walk right into a trap. Morse makes the most of his underused role, but could’ve used more character development, such as his background as a federal officer.
Alvin does get a nice backstory that makes the audiences sympathize a bit with his petty theft antics and irresponsibility. Alvin eventually comes into his own as a hero who takes action instead of a whiney crook handing out empty promises. The plot itself functions as a catalyst to help Alvin make this transition as Edgar decides “from now on Alvin Sanders leads a charmed life.” Edgar himself eventually makes a notable, but largely inconsequential, transition from an uncaring man who makes stereotypical statements about Alvin into a man who cares a little bit more because of Alvin’s wily charm and genuine character.
An entertaining, but unnecessary subplot involving two car thieves unintentionally slighted by Alvin, brings little tension or comic relief. The second half of the film has an inventive sequence where two good dramatic climaxes mix together as Fuqua uses intermittent shots of a rescue attempt by Edgar and his fellow agents and Alvin’s encounter with Bristol.
Director Fuqua produces some good action sequences in the urban settings in Ontario, Canada and New York that mainly involve car stunts. One standout shot makes a vertical pan from the ground level to a crowd seated high above at a horseracing track. The music plays above average as veteran Mark Mancina (Bad Boys) pumps up the volume with rock music that helps elevate the action in the plot.
Recommended for the decent car stunts and entertaining plot, but Bait could’ve put more intelligence into Edgar and his fellow agents. The federal agents also need some intelligence as they practice some unwise crime fighting techniques like tasting an unknown material on the floor then asking if it’s poison. Recommended with reservations (**1/2 out of four stars) and rated R for violence, language and a sex scene.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler