All About the Benjamins

It’s billed as an “action/comedy,” but “All About the Benjamins” suffers from the worst of those two genres: action sequences that are dull and familiar, and comedy bits that are strained and unfunny.

Not helping the situation any are the film’s stars. Ice Cube plays Miami bounty hunter Bucum Jackson, and Mike Epps plays Reggie Wright, the loud-mouthed deadbeat Bucum is currently pursuing. Both wind up the targets of murderous jewel thieves, and they must work together to get what they want: Bucum wants to bag the thieves and earn some respect; Reggie wants to get his wallet back from them (they’re wallet thieves, too, I guess), because it has a winning lottery ticket in it.

Mr. Cube is certainly a fine rapper, but an actor he is not. He exudes attitude, but no personality. Epps, meanwhile, is the latest in a series of Jamie Foxxes/Martin Lawrences/Chris Tuckers who believe being black and talking fast is all it takes to achieve humor.

Bucum has a co-worker named Pam (Valarie Rae Miller), and Reggie has a girlfriend named Gina (Eva Mendes), both of whom get involved in the film’s final sequence. I kept imaging the Ricardos and Mertzes playing the roles instead — confronting jewel thieves, shooting people, etc. It made it a lot funnier.

In fact, though it makes some half-hearted stabs at it, “All About the Benjamins” is not a comedy at all. It has too much mean-spirited and cruel violence to be balanced out merely by glib one-liners. It’s the same awkward mix that sort of worked in “Blue Streak” and did not work in “Bait,” and here it plays like a by-the-numbers action flick that happens to have a few funny lines in it. It is barely watchable.

D (; R, abundant harsh profanity, a lot of bloody.)