With Bait, Jamie Foxx is poised to move into the big league after films like Booty Call, following the footsteps of actors like Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, and Martin Lawrence.

Foxx plays Alvin Sanders, small-time crook who ends up in prison while on parole, after being foiled attempting a prawn-heist. At the same time Foxx is executing his grand plan, Bristol (Doug Hutchison), a hacker with a terrible temper, is robbing the U.S Treasury of 42 billion in gold. Bristol's untrustworthy partner, John Jaster (Robert Pasorelli) however leaves Bristol in the lurch and makes off with the gold, but ends up in jail for DWI, as Avin's cellmate.

Meanwhile, Edgar Clenteen (David Morse), the investigator in charge of the gold robbery, tracks down Jaster who dies not revealing where the gold is buried or the identity of his partner-in-crime. Clenteen then orchestrates a plan to use Alvin as bait to draw out Bristol. In the interests of national security, Alvin is unknowingly implanted with a micro chip that allows for audio eavesdropping as well as satellite tracking.

Bristol believes Alvin where the gold is but is aware of the trap being set. Alvin has his own share of troubles to deal with: his girlfriend, his newborn son, a local hoodlum who blames him for all his problems, and a growing suspicion that something is amiss. The action in the film arises from Clenteen's desire to get Bristol, Bristol's desire to get his gold, and Alvin being stuck in the middle.

The film does the usual action-comedy routine very well, but what works in this film is the alternation between the intensity of Clenteen and Bristol versus Alvin's wise-cracking. The scenes involving the former are high-energy syncopated (almost incoherent) cuts and the latter is usually funny. But Alvin is more than an idiot criminal and his humour is his way of dealing with the problems life has thrust upon him.

The acting is excellent. Clenteen and Bristol are psychopaths in their own ways and Morse and Hutchison convincingly present those sides of the characters they portray. Foxx is the star of the show with his easy-going attitude and it's clear that he's enjoying himself. Kimberly Hill, who plays Foxx' love interest, Lisa Hill, also does a fine supporting job.

The film reminds me a lot of Enemy of the State both in terms of its similarities and its differences. In both cases, the protagonists are wise-cracking innocents running from powerful enemies. In both cases, there's a character who allegedly once worked for the government but has now chosen a different route, still using the information he gained to his advantage. In Enemy of the State, this character is on the good side and here he is the villain (while an off-the-cuff remark is made to the effect, the connection between Bristol and the government is never explored). Eclipsing all this in both movies is the notion of how technology can be used to track down the movements of an individual.

Bait is one of the more enjoyable action thrillers I've seen. I highly recommend checking it out on the big screen.

Movie ram-blings || Ram Samudrala ||