All About the Benjamins

Starring:
Ice Cube as Bucum Jackson
Mike Epps as Reggie Wright
Tommy Flanagan as Robert Williamson
Carmen Chaplin as Ursula
Jeff Chase as Mango
Anthony Giaimo as Seth Martinez
Anthony Michael Hall as Lil’ J
Lil’ Bow Wow as Kelly
Eva Mendes as Gina
Valarie Rae Miller as Pam
Roger Guenveur Smith as Ramose
Jodi Lyn Wilson as Lil’ J Girlfriend

Summary:
All About the Benjamins is an action-comedy starring Ice Cube and Mike Epps that is amusing and mildly exciting.

Story:
Bucum Jackson (Ice Cube) is a bounty hunter who is good at his job. He takes a thrill from beating people up and using his gun to enforce his rules. The only problem is that the job doesn’t pay well enough for his lifestyle (he buys $600 fish for a fish tank).

Reggie Wright (Mike Epps) is a fast-talking con man who has been taken in before by Bucum. He scams everything from old ladies to convenience stores. When Bucum is sent to bring Reggie back in, Reggie dodges him and accidentally runs into a $20 million diamond heist. Reggie escapes Bucum and the diamond thieves, but the thieves obtain Reggie’s dropped wallet. It just so happens that Reggie won the $60 million lottery that day and the ticket is in the wallet.

Bucum eventually catches up with Reggie and threatens to kill him. Reggie convinces Bucum to become partners and go after the ticket and the diamonds. The only thing in their way is the malicious Robert Williamson (Tommy Flanagan), who is coming after Reggie because the diamond thieves gave him Reggie’s wallet. Somehow this makes a decent, action-comedy.

Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language and brief sexuality.

What Worked:
Ice Cube and Mike Epps make a good team. Ice Cube is not that bad of an actor and he succeeds at kicking everyone’s ass and looking mean doing it. Also taking a writing credit, Cube proves himself to be a versatile actor when it comes to being a mercenary. Mike Epps was annoying as ever in Next Friday, but he is hilarious in Benjamins. His quips to most of the bad guys are laugh-out-loud funny and he maintains it through the whole hour and a half affair.

The opening credit sequence is very cool (freeze-framing scenes with a dollar bill outline) and the action is top-notch. The movie isn’t badly filmed either; first-time director Kevin Bray seems to know what he’s doing.

The movie is perfect for the audience; there were times when I couldn’t hear the dialogue because the audience was laughing so loudly.

What Didn’t Work:
The problem with a movie like this is that when the dialogue isn’t a joke line, it’s very bad (and unintentionally funny). Also, the half-baked plot is lame and full of holes and major coincidences.

Any movie that’s based on a song title usually is not a good sign (Drive Me Crazy), but they actually use the song title as dialogue and it sort-of makes sense. The mini-rapper Lil’ Bow Wow cameo is unneeded and dumb. All of the villains have awful dialogue and are used for jokes. Tommy Flanagan is very bad as Williamson; he seems to be angry to go from Gladiator to this.

I was expecting much worse from the film, but it actually was a nice change from stupid urban comedies like How High.

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