Benjamins Goes Bankrupt

Kiss of death: Mike Epps takes one on the chin.

As bounty hunter Buccum, Ice Cube zaps people unnecessarily with tasers, points his gun at a kid, tortures a man using metal screws and engages in ethnic slurs--all in the service of obtaining some diamonds that aren't rightfully his to begin with. Flawed heroes are one thing, but this is overkill. He's trying to go into business for himself as a private investigator, and might even have the money if he didn't waste it on $600 tropical fish that tend to die within a couple of hours. In the meantime, he's stuck with low-paying assignments, like pursuing small-time hustler Reggie Wright (Mike Epps). In an extremely unlikely coincidence, Wright wins the lottery on the same day he accidentally stumbles upon a diamond heist, only to leave the winning ticket in the jewel thieves' van. What follows is a bunch of poorly choreographed chases director Kevin Bray tries to disguise the ineptness of with every trick in the book: drop-frame, freeze-frame, insertion of black-and-white stills, slo-mo, repeat action and so on. The film's fast-paced enough that most probably won't think to look at their watches, but not quite quick enough to gloss over plot problems. When not extrapolating huge chunks of exposition from nothing, Cube and Epps are stumped by setups so obvious you'll be 10 steps ahead of them. If the point is comedic banter, that's not too effective, either. A tiresome setup for what most likely will be a bankrupt franchise.

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