Skiptrace: Chan & Knoxville Star in Dull Buddy-Cop Flick
Jackie ChanJohnny Knoxville
Action & AdventureComedy...
Those expecting the same brand of humour and vigorous energy of the Jackie Chan-starring buddy-cop series, Rush Hour, will probably not be too taken with the latest offering from the creator of Die Hard 2 and five-time Golden Raspberry nominee for Worst Director, Renny Harlin. The idea of pairing likes Chan and Jackass luminary, Johnny Knoxville, might have looked good on paper, but in realitym their somewhat tepid onscreen chemistry faiils to bring Skiptrace’s otherwise shambolic premise to life.
The story is centred on no-nonsense Hong Kong cop Bennie Chan (Chan) who, after failing to save his partner Yung (Tsang) from the trap laid out by a mysterious crime kingpin, The Matador, nine years prior, has become obsessed with trying reveal the identity of the criminal and bring him to justice.
His ten-year-long investigation soon leads him to believe that the man he wants is actually business tycoon Victor Wong (Chao), but the lack of evidence stops him from pursuing the matter further. Meanwhile in Macau, American con-man and gambler Connor Watts (Knoxville) is being chased – and eventually kidnapped – by Russian gangsters for impregnating their boss’s daughter, but not before he bears witness to the murder of a woman by the very same Chinese mob Bennie wants a piece of. You follow?
With Watts holding the key of putting Wong behind bars and with Bennie’s ex-partner’s daughter, Samantha (Bingbing), now in the hands of the baddies back home, Bennie must travel down to Russia and rescue the American and take him back to China before time runs out.
Skiptrace spends most of its time on the road with the duo taking the more scenic route from to China – after their passports are conveniently burned – through eastern Russia and the sweeping Mongolian plains.
Although Chan is beginning to show his age, the action, as per usual, is pretty infectious with the sixty-two year old offering more of the same acrobatic stunts and ass-chopping skills we’ve grown accustomed to. Unfortunately, though, the craziness and general liveliness of it all takes a drop and the film goes on to take itself a little too seriously – this doesn’t feel like a Jackie Chan-produced actioner.
The biggest flaw, however, comes with the casting of Knoxville. Unable to rise above the dreadful dialogue and silly one-liners, there’s no edge or comedic bite to his performance leaving Chan to do all of the heavy lifting.
Though beautifully shot, Skiptrace is about an hour too long and at times plays out as an over-reaching travelogue, lacking the humour, energy and focus needed to keep its characters interesting and story on track. And let’s not even talk about Chan’s rendition of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep.