From the get-go, “Bait” is hook, line and stinker — with an emphasis on the latter. The film is an obvious bid to propel its star Jaime Foxx to higher ground. But this is one vehicle that will drive his career nowhere, unless his destination happens to be B-movie Boulevard.
Do the math. The first two-thirds of the picture are almost painful to watch because you, I and the family dog have seen everything that happens in this movie in about a hundred other movies. It’s not until the last 20 minutes that “Bait” jump-starts, but by then it’s too little too late.
Foxx stars as Alvin Sanders, who has just been imprisoned for stealing prawns (shrimp to you). While in jail, his inmate gives Alvin a deathbed clue on where $42 million in gold is buried. Enter icy-cold villain, Bristol (Doug Hutchinson). This guy wants the gold and he’s more than willing to overact to get it. He’s smart, ruthless and has a great bad dude voice. When he speaks, it’s half Marlon Brando, half pissed-off drama student.
Send in the police! U.S. Treasury agent Edgar Clenteen (David Morse) is hell-bent on catching Bristol. So, he and his squad implant a tracking device in the jaw of an unknowing Alvin. Once freed from jail, the cops sit back and wait for their chance to nab Bristol, who’s hot on Alvin’s trail to find out what he knows.
Given the setup and the sporadic action to follow, “Bait” is a desperate plea to capitalize on the success of “Enemy of the State”. There’s even one scene that plays so close to that film, it almost works as parody. And while we’re on the subject, isn’t supporting actor Jamie Kennedy (Randy in the “Scream” series) playing the exact same role here that he played in “Enemy of the State”? He fares better behind a video store counter than a computer keyboard.
When the movie stops for a break in the action, there are some nice moments between Foxx and his ex-girlfriend and son. But those scenes are few and far between. It doesn’t help matters that Antoine Fuqua overdirects everything. How do you so thoroughly screw up a sex scene? Give the man a camera!
To be fair, the film boasts some technical expertise, and I suppose the actors do their best given the formula-drenched script. Foxx mugs affectionately and seems to be having fun. Give the guy credit. He wisecracks during torture.
But “Bait” is a weak trivial showcase — a sort of “Beverly Hills Flop” that might be entertaining to action fans that were born yesterday. The finale boasts some excitement that wasn’t found earlier, but it to is nearly an exact copy to the end of “The Last Boy Scout” (an action movie that has the balls this movie lacks).
In one of the more trailer-ready lines in the film, the Treasury agent asks: “Well, you know what happens to bait don’t you?” Yep. In four months, it winds up between “Baby’s Day Out” and “Battlefield Earth” at your local Blockbuster.