For a movie that amounts only to a cheap rip-off of many better movies, Bait actually fares moderately well. This is because of director Antoine Fuqua and Jamie Foxx. For Foxx, this marks a return to a character more familiar with audiences. He wowed everyone with his arrogant performance in Any Given Sunday, but always seems to prefer his comedy roles. They are all basically the same; he is a fast-talking pansy. He will trash talk anybody but when push comes to shove, he will back off as quickly as possible. This becomes tedious after watching Foxx in television and film (including Booty Call), and the same thing happens here after a while.

Alvin Sanders (Foxx) is the pawn in an elaborate game to try to capture a thief. Sanders spent some time in jail with the thief's accomplice, and the Treasury Department, under the command of Edgar Clenteen (David Morse, Crazy in Alabama, The Green Mile) thinks that the accomplice told Sanders the location of a large cache of stolen gold. However, this is just conjecture. They release him and implant a transmitter in his jaw. This allows the FBI to track Sanders and listen to all his conversations. They are hoping to draw out the thief, Bristol (Doug Hutchinson, The Green Mile, A Time to Kill) What follows is Clenteen and his crew listen to Sanders as he does everything but draw out Bristol. Supposedly, it is funny to watch Sanders try to reconcile with his girlfriend Lisa (Kimberly Elise, Beloved, Set it Off) and screw around with is brother. Eventually, Bristol emerges and Sanders realizes that something odd is going on.

Foxx can clearly do better. Watching him play the same role repeatedly is getting old fast. In Any Given Sunday, his presence was commanding. He was focused and intense. Here, he is all over the place. Sanders has no real underlying character, merely facets that arise to suit the situation. Sometimes he is a fast-talking wimp. Later he is a serious butt-kicker. In the beginning, the cops collar him for stealing prawns, but by the end, he is able to outwit Bristol, who is amazingly smart. The other actors do not fare as well either. Morse is also capable of showing great range and emotion, but the script only calls for him to be colossally pissed off for no apparent reason. His rage has no purpose other than to make him look angry. Hutchinson plays the standard freaky quiet bad guy. He looks like a deranged Moby and sounds like a cross between John Malkovich and Hannibal Lecter.

Echoes of Enemy of the State ring constantly throughout the film, from the 'big brother' ideas to camera shots. Fuqua, who directed the violence in The Replacement Killers with a sense of gracefulness and flair, merely bombards the screen with computer imagery to try to make everything look futuristic. It does not work. If anything, it is distracting watching the camera fly all over the place when there is not that much to film. Screenwriters Andrew Scheinman (A Few Good Men), Adam Scheinman (Mickey Blue Eyes), Tony Gilroy (Armageddon) and Jeff Nathanson waste too much time on subplots that look disparate but inevitably converge unbelievably in the end. This is lowest common denominator filmmaking. Make something that has little elements of what the public likes, and they will see it. In this sense, Bait is an appropriate name.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 59 minutes, Rated R for language, violence, and a scene of sexuality.

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