"Bait" tries hard to be two movies, a comedy and a thriller. With the former it does a good job, thanks to the efforts of leading man Jamie Foxx, but pretty much fails at the latter.
Foxx is a petty thief named Alvin Sanders. Picked up one night for burglary, he shares a cell with John Jaster (Robert Pastorelli), whose heart problems frighten him into giving Foxx some cryptic hints as to the whereabouts of a load of stolen gold.
Foxx is eager to recover it. So are the feds, and they effect a jail-yard injury that enables them to install a high-tech tracking and listening device inside Foxx's jaw, then turn him loose.
Foxx's character isn't the brightest bulb in the marquee. "They just don't let you go," his buddy protests when Foxx is mysteriously released.
Initially nonplussed, Alvin begins to get suspicious when large bundles of cash keep dropping into his lap.
When the government tracking device goes offline - and Alvin's girlfriend gets snatched by an evil brainiac - things get very real, very fast.
Foxx's Alvin, a small-time hustler with only slightly larger dreams, is a warm and likable character. Foxx is superb at presenting dumb with dignity intact. To see what happens to Alvin is the reason to sit through the movie.
The rest is fairly ridiculous. If you want a conflicted movie that doesn't know what it is, or just wish to kill a few hours, this is for you.
Otherwise, keep fishing and cut "Bait."
Starring Jamie Foxx, Kimberly Elise, Doug Hutchinson
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Rated R (language, violence, sexuality)
Released by Warner Bros.
Running time 110 minutes
Sun score *1/2