Bad Company seemingly has no more noble ambition than to give audiences the interracial sex only hinted at in The Pelican Brief’s chaste pairing of Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. But with its uninvolving story, listless delivery and unsympathetic characters played by leads Laurence Fishburne and Ellen Barkin, would-be suspenser fails even on the erotic level.
Story opens with ex-CIA troubleshooter Nelson Crowe (Fishburne) getting a new job at a company headed by Margaret Wells (Barkin) and Vic Grimes (Frank Langella). Couple’s shady firm specializes in using former government sleuths to do the dirty work of corporations and other private predators.
First assignment has Crowe and new partner Tod Stapp (Michael Beach) sent to bribe a gambling-addicted judge (Odgen Stiers). Crowe finds himself facing an even more covert job when Wells asks him to join her in offing Grimes and claiming the company as their own.
Soon after comes the revelation that, rather than being the free agent he seems, Crowe remains in thrall to the CIA, which wants him to conspire with Wells in order to toss the boutique spy outfit into the agency’s waiting hands.
Barkin and Fishburne do capable work in roles that require only one-note shrewishness from her, stolid taciturnity from him. Supporting performances are generally OK, with some welcome subtlety coming from Stiers and Beach.