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  All About the Benjamins Money Matters
Year: 2002
Director: Kevin Bray
Stars: Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Tommy Flanagan, Carmen Chaplin, Eva Mendes, Valarie Rae Miller, Anthony Giaimo, Jeff Chase, Roger Guenveur Smith, Gino Salvano, Tony Ward, Dominic Chianese Jr, Anthony Michael Hall, Antoni Corone, Bob Carter, Oscar Isaac
Genre: Comedy, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bucum (Ice Cube) is a bounty hunter in Florida, who today ventures out to the back of beyond to bring in a criminal (Anthony Michael Hall) who has a price on his head, though as ever this is easier said than done. He may creep up on the target's house with gun drawn, but he hears him coming anyway and a standoff erupts, with the man's wife brandishing a shotgun that causes Bucum to jump through the window to safety, and even then there is an old age pensioner sticking her oar in with her own pistol aimed at him. He does succeed, however, because he is very good at his job, not that his boss sees it that way and always has complaints about him, but his next bounty will prove a real challenge...

Ice Cube may have made his name as a rap artist, but once he settled into the movies for him it was a match made in heaven, if not necessarily for everyone else. He could live out his macho man fantasies, bringing the action in a way that other heroes would, though he always had that bad boy edge which presumably he hoped would set him apart from his contemporaries, no matter that to look at him he was an unlikely star of these bullets and explosions filled efforts, not being a prime physical specimen as seemed to be the rule for such movies. That's not to say he was heavily overweight and preferred to sit down throughout his roles, not naming any latter day Steven Seagals as some might, but he did look curiously ordinary.

This of course could be the appeal, but also why he was better suited to comedy than thrillers, which may be why when he set up his own production company to finance his own films they would more often than not feature humour. Ice Cube went some way to cornering the market in grumpy, gun-toting men who generated the laughs in how bad tempered he could become, and this was no different, playing the straight man to Mike Epps' more over the top comedic interpretation. They obviously got along well because they made a few of these sort of affairs, with All About the Benjamins proving the most typical from a variety of fairly samey endeavours, and in truth you would have to be a dedicated fan of either to find much to laugh at.

Much of the humour was fairly tedious and unimaginative, nothing that would make you dive for the remote if you were slumped in front of it on television late one night, but not really anything much to, you know, make you laugh either. The scenes followed each other as if to a formula, Epps gets agitated, Cube gets annoyed, they clash, they muddle through on the trail of both a lottery ticket worth millions and a stash of stolen diamonds (one of those choices evidently not enough for these guys, they had to include two MacGuffins with a financial allure), and it all ended more or less as you would expect within the first ten minutes. About the only thing that made it distinctive was the bad guy, Glaswegian actor Tommy Flanagan who had moved to Hollywood and was getting hardman roles without altering his accent.

It was a little strange to see Flanagan trading barbs in a seriously unimpressed, stony faced manner with the more exuberant Epps, but it was more memorable than just about anything else in the movie. And that was one whose idea of a colourful personality trait was giving Bucum an interest in exotic fish as a hobby, lending some scenes the excuse to feature the creatures and Ice interacting with them in a way that suggested he actually knew very little about such a pastime, though that surly, not suffering fools gladly demeanour he cultivated could have been a big reason for that. In the supporting cast, a pre-fame Eva Mendes essayed Epps' girlfriend, not much more than hotheaded decoration, and Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter Carmen Chaplin made an appearance as a shady lady, though star spotters would largely get a kick out of seeing future Star Wars actor Oscar Isaac in a one scene wonder, unmistakably him yet suffering the fate he would not put up with when he started to make a name for himself. Apart from that, undistinguished but easy to watch. Music by John Murphy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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