Bait Movie Review

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The American fascination with personal surveillance and voyeurism has reached a new and strange level. TV shows such as Survivor, Big Brother - and movies such as Enemy of the State and The Blair Witch Project have raised the bar for compulsive interest in other peoples' lives. It is as if America has become a nation of stalkers and shut-ins locked away behind their television and computer screens. The new Jamie Foxx film Bait is a prime example of how this sadistic, cultural phenomenon has been constructed into mainstream Hollywood fodder for the masses.

I didn't know what to expect of Bait. From the media blitz in the past couple weeks, the movie looked like a weird hybrid of Blue Streak, Enemy of the State, and Hackers without Angeline Jolie (dammit!). The story follows Foxx as an inept thief named Alvin Sanders who involuntarily helps Federal agents track down an ultra-cool computer hacker -- Doug Hutchison (that asshole guard Percy Wetmore from The Green Mile) -- who has robbed the U.S. Gold Reserve with lackey Robert Pastorelli of 42 million dollars.

The lackey takes off with the gold, buries it in secret place, and ends up being arrested on a DWI, all on the same night. Busy guy. The lackey then lands in the same cell as Alvin Sanders (Foxx) who has been arrested for stealing shrimp - I mean prawns - from a Brooklyn fish plant. The lackey, who has terrible heart problems, confides in Alvin to tell his wife of a secret code of the location of the buried gold. The lackey dies during an interrogation by a big and mean Federal agent played by David Morse, and both the hacker and the feds are left with no leads... except Alvin. The feds then secretly plant a tracking device under Alvin's jawbone and use him for... you guessed, it... bait to lure out the hacker. Humorous dialogue, uncomfortable dramatic moments, and loud car chase scenes follow.

Bait is reminiscent of many of its numerous contemporaries, but it is able to maintain a sense of direction under the cool hand of director Antoine Fuqua. Known mainly for music videos and The Replacement Killers, Fuqua is no Hype Williams, but he can move the camera like Malick and capture action scenes like Peckinpah. Foxx is always a surprise to watch as an actor, because he can come off as a chump one minute and a serious actor the next. Morse is a perfect straight man to Foxx's inane attempts to return to respectability. But the most interesting character is Hutchinson's hacker, who comes across as faceless while holding a cold control over nature, like a predator stalking his prey.

Bait is a solid action movie despite a weird pace to the film. One minute Foxx is joking around about being a player, the next minute he is committing to his girl and a new baby boy. The movie has been sold to public as an "action-comedy" but in reality - the film is tinged with dark moments of cold-blooded murder and Orwellian themes of surveillance and control. In other words, this ain't no Big Momma's House.

Bait taken.

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Bait Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, 2000


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