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Bad Company (1995) Starring Laurence Fishburne And Ellen Barkin: A Review

Updated on April 28, 2015
wingedcentaur profile image

The first step is to know what you do not know. The second step is to ask the right questions. I reserve the right to lean on my ignorance.

You know the part where Margaret Wells asked Nelson Crowe for his answer about the proposition she put to him, for "half the Toolshed"?

Nelson Crowe says: "And Grimes?" (Just go with me for now, I'll explain myself later)

Margaret Wells: (says nothing)

Nelson Crowe: (laughs) "So Grimes goes."

Margaret Wells: (still says nothing)

Nelson Crows: (rolls back on top of her) "Say it."

Margaret Wells: (finally relenting) "Grimes goes."

Then Crowe and Wells share a deep, passionate kiss. Just as they break the lip-lock, Margaret Wells, arches her back a little, and sort of reaches up to him and for him, in a state that appeared to be (to my eyes anyway) longing. This sequence took less than five seconds, and at the precise moment of the fifth second I found myself thinking, "She's fallen for him. She loves him."

This was significant because it meant that the cool, calm, collected, and always-in-control, former Central Intelligence Agency operative, Margaret Wells had gone and fallen in love. We understood that Ms. Wells was a healthy woman with healthy "needs" and desires, and so forth. But for her to fall in love like that...... and fall so hard, so quickly........ it was quite remarkable really!

After that five seconds, in, say, the next one and a half seconds -- with the merest motion of her head and neck and a slight something she did with her eyes -- Margaret Wells returned her head to the pillow, and one could see her thinking to herself, "Whoa! Slow down, Margaret! Slow down! Don't get carried away. Let's stay in control here!" So, in six and a half seconds we see that Margaret Wells, the hip former CIA operative, has gone and fallen in LOVE and we see that Ms. Wells is trying to "be still [her] fluttering heart," as it were.

In my opinion, it is the ability to execute in these in-between spaces of dialogue and action, where we see the greatness of certain actors and actresses. It is the ability to execute within these "in-between spaces" that separates good actors from fair actors, and great actors from merely good actors. Ellen Barkin was certainly great in this severely underrated and overlooked film. She played a ravishing and seductive manipulator with class and verve.

Talk about sexual chemistry, Barkin and Fishburne had it to spare. And, to use a cliché, they "sizzled" whenever they were on the screen together.


You know, dear reader, there is a scene which I am sure goes against the grain of YouTube's rules of propriety. It takes place in back of Margaret Wells's lakefront home. It is evening and the moonlight shimmers off the surface of the water. It's all quite romantic.

Margaret Wells and Nelson Crowe have a drink and glory in the successful conclusion of an extortion operation. They also begin to think about how and when they shall dispose of Vic Grimes, so that they (Wells and Crowe) can take over "The Toolshed" for themselves.

You see, dear reader, there comes a point where Ms. Wells and Mr. Crowe......... show their affection for one another atop a reclining lawnchair......... Oh dear! Ellen Barkin looks absolutely stunning in this scene. She's wearing a clingy, vaguely wet-looking, lime, or what I would even call a... seaweed green dress. To my eye, she looks vaguely like a mermaid in this scene.

I bought into it. I believed their romance was real. I even found myself wishing that Margaret Wells and Nelson Crowe could, somehow get out from between the rock (that was The Toolshed) and the hard place (that was the Central Intelligence Agency) and runaway, change their names and get new papers, perhaps get some plastic surgery, get married, flee to Tahiti or Hawaii, some place like that, and perhaps go into business for themselves as slightly shady private investigators or something like that. But, of course, that was not to be. Almost everyone ended up Dead! Dead! Dead! Oh well.......

What kind of movie is this anyway?

Bad Company is a crime drama, make no mistake about it. The spy stuff (and there is some spy stuff) is nominal, superfluous (and this is not a criticism); and it is, therefore, unnecessary to pay close attention to it. The spy stuff, as I see it, is a minimal plot structure designed to convey the fundamental drama of the passion and treachery that passes between Nelson Crowe and Margaret Wells, in the great tradition of film noir classics like Double Indemnity (1944; Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946; John Garfield and Lana Turner), of which there are echoes in Bad Company.

Okay, then, now a very brief word about the plot

Nelson Crowe is a deep-cover operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. His assignment is to infiltrate a private industrial espionage operation known as "The Toolshed," headed up by a former high-ranking CIA officer called Vic Grimes (of "Grimes goes" fame), played with debonair villainy by Frank Langella. The organization is, of course, exclusively staffed with former CIA people, and the second-in-command there is Margaret Wells (Ellen Barkin).

Its as simple as that. The film is about the unfolding of that scenario with all its "twists and turns," double and triple crosses, passion and murder. So, this weekend do give Bad Company (with Fishburne and Barkin) a try.

Thank you for reading.



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    • wingedcentaur profile imageAUTHOR

      William Thomas 

      9 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Day jrsearam!

      Thank you for commenting on my unworthy hub. Since you enjoyed Bad Company, go tell all your friends who haven't seen it to rent it this weekend. Thanks again for the kind word, I appreciate it.

      Take it easy.

    • jrsearam profile image


      9 years ago from San Juan, PR

      I liked the performances in this flick. Since King of New York I've enjoyed following Larry Fishburne and after seeing Frank Langella play Sherlock Holmes on B'way he became one of my favorites. His role in the remake of Kubrick's Lolita was played with particularly disturbing pathos. Cool hub Cent..JR


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