All About the Benjamins

Directed by Kevin Bray
Starring: Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Tommy Flanagan, Eva Mendes, Carmen Chaplin, Valarie Rae Miller.
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language and brief sexuality.

Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <evy@filmhead.com>
March 14, 2002

Usually previews try to make movies seem better than they are. They jam all the funny or exciting parts into the preview, leaving nothing interesting left for the movie. The previews for All About the Benjamins were dreadful. They weren't funny, they weren't exciting, and they made me dread the film I am a minor fan of Mr. Cube so I decided to chance it. I'm glad that I did; the movie does have irritating parts and they are all in the previews. The funny stuff all contains much foul and offensive dialogue, so it was left out.

The plot is pretty complicated. Ice Cube plays Bucum Jackson, a freelance bounty hunter. While chasing bail jumper Reggie Wright (Mike Epps), Bucum interrupts a diamond heist and is shot at. Meanwhile, Reggie escapes Bucum and the murderous would-be diamond thieves, but loses his wallet. His wallet contains a winning lottery ticket that he purchased that morning for his girlfriend, Gina (Eva Mendes). Reggie wants to get back his wallet, Bucum wants to solve the murders that happened during the diamond heist, and the bad guys want to kill both of them because they are witnesses.

The script by Ice Cube and Ronald Lang is highly amusing and clever with only a few irritating moments. Unfortunately these moments are carried by the slightly annoying Mike Epps. Epps has a style of delivery that makes everything he says sound stupid even if it isn't. He isn't as bad as Chris Tucker, but he's close. Eva Mendes as Gina is wonderful, as is Valarie Rae Miller as Pam, the secretary at the bail bond office. They also get the best lines and some pretty exciting costumes to wear. Ice Cube himself is terrific, as usual. Both Mendes and Ice Cube are solid actors whose last major roles were in horrifically bad movies (Urban Legends: Final Cut and Ghosts of Mars, respectively). Maybe Ice Cube should primarily work in films he produces. Friday and the Benjamins may not be the stuff movie legends are made of, but at least they are better than Mars and Anaconda.

I liked this film. It's a straight-up cheesy, chintzy, enjoyable renter or matinee flick, similar in tone and weight to Friday but with more violence and language. If the women (far and away the best characters) were in it more and Mike Epps a little less this would be a 3. As is, it is a solid and pleasurable 2. Of course if you really want to see Ice Cube show off his acting chops, rent Three Kings; that movie IS the stuff movie legends are made of.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
All About the Benjamins (2002)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
All About the Benjamins: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc


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