All About the Benjamins | Chicago Reader

All About the Benjamins

Genre films can become so ritualized and formulaic that they start to look like exercises in surrealism. All About the Benjamins, another in a long line of wisecracking buddy action flicks, is surreal all right, and not in a good way. A bounty hunter (Ice Cube) tracks down a small-time hustler (Mike Epps), and the two cross paths with a band of vicious diamond thieves. Ice Cube wants to put the baddies in jail, Epps wants to find a winning lottery ticket he's lost, and we're off. Director Kevin Bray comes from the world of music videos, and it shows: he's better with action sequences than narrative, and the whole movie feels stiff and awkward whenever the actors stop chasing each other long enough to talk. Ice Cube's emotional range is limited to snarling anger, even when it isn't called for. Epps's comic riffs are sometimes funny, but he feels less like a character than an angry stand-up routine. Under it all is a distinct nastiness, as when Cube and Epps torture a baddie to get information and play his pain for laughs. 94 min.

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