Skiptrace

Skiptrace

Rating: 2.5/4

Twitter review: Jackie’s getting a bit old for the kicks, but he’s still fun to watch in a Midnight Run themed movie.

Spoiler-free review: When I first saw the preview for this film, I thought it might be the start of another series pairing Jackie Chan together with a Western star. After all, he made three Rush Hour films and two Shanghai films (Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights, so you don’t have to google them). But I also had a feeling it was copying some beats from another film, and having seen it, I was right. It’s a fairly blatant copy of Midnight Run, a film starring Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin. The thing is, I didn’t mind, because although this film is not as good as Midnight Run, I still had fun watching it and was quoting it even after the film was over.

This film has Jackie Chan’s police agent Bennie Chan chasing after someone called The Matador, who nine years earlier was responsible for the death of his partner Yung. Yung’s daughter, Samantha, whom Bennie has been a father-figure to ever since, is a manager at a Macau casino. She has a run-in with Connor Watts, someone who is supposed to be good at cards and who is supposed to be good with the women, though we hardly see either of those things. That’s because Connor is soon kidnapped by a Russian gang, whose leader accuses him of getting his daughter pregnant. However, before Connor was kidnapped, he accidentally witnessed the murder of a woman by someone associated with The Matador. Because Connor swapped his business card with Samantha’s ID card, which he used to get in the VIP elevator (and thus was witness to the murder), Samantha tells Bennie. Bennie then tracks Connor down in Russia, and soon has to drag Connor across numerous countries either by foot or broken down motor transport, thinking that Connor will help him prove who The Matador is.

Admittedly, the plot is fairly thin, and to make up for that, you need to have some good acting and some good characters to watch. And while Jackie Chan does appear at times to be – you’ll pardon the quote, “Getting too old for this shit”, he still is fun to watch. There are also some fun fight scenes between him and Dasha, a Russian enforcer who is almost a copy of Angel Dust, the tough as nails female who punched Collosus in the face in Deadpool. And Johnny Knoxville, while not giving the same performance as Charles Grodin did in Midnight Run (though that’s not entirely his fault; his character was fairly thinly written), is also fun to watch.

And despite the MANY comparisons to Midnight Run (A watch that has some emotional significance? Check. Having to jump off a moving train? Check. A trip down a rapids where one of the two can’t swim? Check. A showdown at an airport? Check), I still had fun watching this film. It’s probably one of those films that will come and go fairly quickly when it comes out in the US, but there are worse ways to spend two hours. You could, for instance, be watching the new Ghostbusters film.

 

Spolier-filled review: I do enjoy having a good plot twist to make you go “Wow, I didn’t see that coming!”, but the plot twist to this film is a bit bizarre. It turns out that Bennie’s partner Yung himself is The Matador. There was no clues that I could see during the film that might have given this a Usual Suspects feel, and it just seems a bit like his motivation – other than having more money than the billionaire who was bankrolling him – wasn’t there. And when Yung decides to do what he does at the end of the film, it again feels like “What the hell?” This could have been handled better.

The thing that could have been handled MUCH better in the film is Connor’s character. Other than a couple of very brief scenes, we’re hardly shown what Connor says he is – a guy who is great with the cards and with the women. It would have helped a lot to give him a bit more depth, which would have made his turnaround towards the end of the film more believable. I highly doubt there’s going to be a sequel to this film (I also wonder why the hell it’s called Skiptrace), but if there is, I hope that they do more with Connor’s character than they did here.

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