CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Steve Holden (New York Times), George Meyer (Orlando Weekly), Travis Eddings (filmthreat.com), Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) and Michæl Elliott (crosswalk.com).
* * * out of 4 stars (R)
Most movie critics hate “Bait.” But when this film lures you into the movie theater, it will be Jamie Foxx who hooks you. Be prepared, though, to kick back in your chair until the hook finally catches.
“Bait” is a movie about Alvin Sanders (Jamie Foxx), a convicted thief who is used as bait by the FBI to lure in a computer hacker responsible for stealing $42 million from the New York Federal Gold Reserve. Sanders spent time in jail with the hacker’s partner who ran off with all the gold, but gave Sanders a clue of the gold’s location before he died. The FBI sets Sanders free and secretly implants an electronic chip in his jaw to track his every move.
Steve Holden (New York Times) said, “The biggest question concerning “Bait” is why, oh, why Mr. Foxx, who was so impressive in ‘Any Given Sunday,’ chose to make a movie so boring and idiotic that it barely meets minimal standards of lowest-common-denominator entertainment.”
Get a grip, Holden. You mean to tell me Foxx sat down one day, read the “Bait” script and said, “Hey. This film is boring and idiotic. I’ll do it!” What an idiotic notion. What did happen is Foxx walked into an iffy situation that he was able to bring through – and barely.
George Meyer (Orlando Weekly) said, “If nothing else, ‘Bait’ reasserts Foxx’s possibilities as an actor who can carry a movie on his own.”
Indeed Foxx took the bait and ran with this movie the best he could and pretty much saved it. This movie could have easily been a flop, despite the sometimes-clever plot twists. The writing was average, but good enough to make me forget I was in a movie theater.
Travis Eddings (filmthreat.com) said, “From the get-go, ‘Bait’ is hook, line and stinker – with an emphasis on the latter. It’s not until the last 20 minutes that ‘Bait’ jumps-starts, but by then it’s too late.”
Well the film did use shrimp as a plot devise, so I guess it could be stinker in that regard. But Eddings’ timing is way off. It was the last 40 minutes the film picked up, not 20. “Bait” is likened to a day at the fishing hole, patiently waiting for a bite. When it finally comes, we reel in our prize and that’s what “Bait” delivered. Ok. So maybe it wasn’t a prize fish, but the movie was certainly edible.
Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle) said, “Still, two things pretty much save this movie. The last 40 minutes are well-plotted and paced. And Foxx is enormously likable.”
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) adds, “It’s funny and clever, and it grows on you, especially with the tension between Jamie Foxx’s trash-talking thief and David Morse’s monomaniacal federal agent. It’s one of those movies where you start out thinking you’ve seen it all before, and the longer it runs, the less you’ve seen before.”
Foxx out-foxed some of the lame clichés, action sequences and common story flaws. He made this movie better than it was on black and white. But don’t get me wrong; it’s not all of Foxx’s doing. Doug Hutchison played a cold, yet controlled villain with intelligence.
LaSalle adds, “He is what villains onscreen are only rarely – scary.”
Michæl Elliott (crosswalk.com) summed the movie up best: “With a mixture of action and humor, director Antoine Fuqua (“The Replacement Killers”) fashions a moderately amusing, sometimes thrilling adventure which, though flawed, is passable entertainment.
“Bait” barely reeled in three stars, but the flick is worth watching at the theater, especially if it’s one of those days where you have a hard time choosing a movie.
The critics may tell you to avoid “Bait,” but don’t take their opinion hook, line and sinker.