Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

If ever there was some rudimentary, basic, bargain basement, unimaginative, paint-by-numbers entertainment floating around, WWE Studios has given it to us with their buddy-cop movie ‘Bending the Rules’.  It feels almost as if it were designed just to take up space and maybe give the economy of Louisiana a slight boost.  Entertaining the audience would’ve been an afterthought.

Former professional wrestler Adam ‘The Edge’ Copeland, looking as if he’s dropped about eighty pounds since his WWE days, is hardcore NOPD cop Nick Blades.  Nick Blades.  That’s a pretty decent name spit out from the Action Film Name Generator.  I should be telling you that Nick kicks ass and doesn’t play by the rules, but that’s really not the kind of cop Nick is in this movie, despite his awesome generated name. 

Nick’s immediate problem at the moment is that he’s being tried on corruption charges by hyper dedicated Assistant District Attorney Theo Gold (Jamie Kennedy).  Apparently Nick skimmed some drug money off the top one day and while he looks plenty guilty, because he’s so darned affable the jury can’t seem to render a guilty verdict against him, resulting in a mistrial.

Theo has his own issues.  For starters he’s blown this relatively easy case, his wife has informed him that she’s leaving him, he’s being passed over for his cherished D.A. gig because he’s an ass, the NOPD faithful are harassing him and tazing him for trying to bring one of their own to justice, his father’s classic car has been stolen and he’s shown up on the Kill List of somebody he put on death row a few years back.  The Kill List is essentially what this movie is about if you’re curious.

It’s complicated, probably overly so, but this death row inmate has generated some kind of fancy code via a random newspaper targeting the license plates of people he needs assassinated before he takes the needle.  I’m pretty sure there had to have been an easier way.  Say like just tell the guy doing the killin’ who you want killed.  But no, this cat circled letters in the newspaper like one of the Quinn Martin Production kidnappers or something and is using couriers to deliver cryptic messages across town which may or may not reach their destination.

It started out with Nick trying to help Theo find his stolen car, against Theo’s better judgment since he’s prosecuting Nick and all, but when Nick finds out somebody’s trying to kill Theo he switches into full buddy cop protection mode.    There’s some other stuff going on in the periphery, such as Theo and his relationship with his mom (Jessica Walter) and his sick father (Phillip Baker Hall), and actresses Jennifer Esposito and Alicia Witt are on board to be pretty girls who are not love interests for anybody, again because it’s not that kind of movie, but that’s all just fodder to find out who is trying to kill Theo.  Okay, we already know who’s trying to kill Theo, that guy on death row, but there’s a hitman out there trying to kill Theo and we need know who that is.  Okay, we know who that is already as well, that meter maid dude… but there’s a third person behind the scenes who’s trying to kill Theo that we need to discover.  THAT person we don’t know who it is.  Well actually we do, but for the sake of the script, let’s just assume we don’t.  Finally… shootouts occur.

The main crime committee by director Artie Mandelberg’s action / comedy ‘Bending the Rules’ is that it’s inert.  It’s not good, it’s not terrible, it’s not particularly entertaining but neither is it completely devoid of entertainment value.  It’s just kind of there.  We appreciate movies that mix it up a bit, but ‘Bending the Rules’ probably would’ve benefited by just adhering to the buddy cop action comedy formula.  Usually in the buddy cop genre, one of the characters is a loose cannon while the other is the stabilizing force, often irritating and wimpy.  All right, Jamie Kennedy had that second part down pretty good, but The Edge was way too laid back and easy going to be the loose cannon, and despite his Action Wrestling pedigree he probably wasn’t the best choice to be the action hero in this one.  He has a natural affability about him which would probably work wonders in a kids family movie or ‘gasp’ a romantic comedy, but an action hero, not so much.  Was Dave Bautista busy that week?  Am I getting my wrestling federations confused?

The narrative was uninspiring and woefully predictable, the pacing was a little on the slow side for the action part of this action comedy, the funny was a little light for comedy part of the action comedy and there’s not really much here to recommend to anyone to rush out and watch it.  Unless, of course, you’re a big fan of ‘The Edge’ or Jamie Kennedy or you are looking for something to play in the background that won’t distract you or upset you while you strip your wood floors.  ‘Bending the Rules’ is that kind of movie.

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