Mini Reviews (November 2001)
Bait, The Hole
Bait (November 1/01)
Bait is a really good 80-minute action movie trapped inside an overblown, erratically-paced, two-hour suckfest. Jamie Foxx overacts and mugs his way through the entire running time, but strangely enough, this isn't the biggest problem with the movie. No, the real problem here is that dang overlength. This is a story that can be summed up in one sentence - a determined agent hunting for a vicious killer puts the word out on the street that an ex-con has knowledge of the whereabouts of a stash of gold stolen (and lost) by said vicious killer - and yet manages to limp along for nearly two hours (118 minutes, to be exact). Director Antoine Fuqua tries to keep the pace lively by throwing in a lot of visual pyrotechnics, but alas, boredom invariably creeps in after the set-up has been established. And since Foxx isn't a compelling character at all (or even likable - his over-the-top shenanigans will have you cheering for the bad guy to just off him already), it's very difficult to care about what happens to him. The supporting cast is great, though, with David Morse, Doug Hutchison, and David Paymer stealing scenes but that's not enough to elevate this mess to anything more than a barely-entertaining way to spend two long hours.
The Hole (November 1/01)
The last 45-minutes of The Hole are so entertaining, so creepy, that it's easy to forget how lame the first hour is. Thora Birch (sporting an iffy English accent) stars as a young girl who, along with three friends, decides to spend the weekend in a long-since abandoned bomb shelter. They wind up trapped inside, though, and insanity begins to invade the teens... Had that been the premise of the movie, I've no doubt The Hole would've been an astoundingly creepy and effective thriller. But the structure of the movie has been complicated to such a degree that this sparse concept seems to be an afterthought. The story is told in flashback, and initially, it's entirely from Birch's point-of-view. But it's soon revealed that Birch's story is a complete fabrication. Now, we have to watch a bunch of different variations on what happened inside the hole - until finally, in the last 45 minutes or so, we get to see what really happened. That section of the movie features some really creepy sequences and images - my favorite being the zombie-like look the actors begin to sport after going a week without any food. It's that protracted section of the movie that I'm recommending - everything that came before it is essentially filler.