Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Two Guys Who Don't Mind Hurting Themselves For Our Amusement

My movie reviews are starting to get backlogged. I watched Skiptrace on Presidents' Day. Jackie Chan is a cop trying to bring down a kingpin who killed his partner. Johnny Knoxville is fast talking card shark who just so happens to have witnessed a murder committed by the man Chan believes is said kingpin. Unfortunately, Knoxville is also in deep with a Russian mobster (who believes Knoxville impregnated his daughter), and Chan had to venture to Russia to retrieve him. Then they have to make it back to China.

So a lot like Midnight Run, or Bulletproof, or Planes, Trains and Automobiles (for the travel hijinks, as I don't recall a lot of martial arts action by Steve Martin), or take your pick. Lots of complications as they try to cross a considerable amount of ground in a relatively short time, and neither likes the other, and one is constantly trying to escape or sabotage the trip. They find some common ground, the cad does the honorable thing, the upright guy learns to enjoy himself, days are saved, criminals defeated.

It definitely has its moments. Chan is showing his age, the stunts aren't as fluid, you can tell they're using more editing to try and cover for it, but that's fine. Dude's like 65 and still 15 times more agile than I'll ever be. He and Knoxville play off each other pretty well. One guy never shuts up, is constantly putting his foot in his mouth, but he's clever enough to to get the drop on someone if their guard is down. The comedy is mostly physical, no real surprise there. Either Chan doing his improvised offense bit during the fight scenes, or Knoxville getting hurt in said fight scenes, that kind of thing. There's one gag involving a Russian nesting doll that got a good laugh out of me. Knoxville's character is enough of a loudmouth jerk that it's fun to watch all the moments he thinks he has the upper hand fall apart, but not so terrible you necessarily want him badly hurt.

Both the Chinese gang and the Russian mob that's after Knoxville have women as their primary asskickers, so those two square off during the big final fight and are swinging away at each other with giant wrenches and stuff, that was pretty cool. Could have been longer. There's a couple of romantic subplots that are underdeveloped, just not given enough screen time to sell them. There's some gorgeous scenery in the film.

But in some ways the film felt long, even though it's less than 2 hours. The whole story is basically the two of them heading back towards Macau, and somehow there's just not quite enough momentum to carry it all the way there. Maybe the plot is too cliched, so you really need something special to make it work, and that's not quite there consistently.

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