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Film review: Skiptrace let down by lack of chemistry and a flimsy script

For all the film’s faults, there are a few laughs to be had – though the humour is never exactly sophisticated – and the scenery of the international locations is at times worth a watch in itself.
Johnny Knoxville, left, and Jackie Chan in Skiptrace. Courtesy Italia Film International
Johnny Knoxville, left, and Jackie Chan in Skiptrace. Courtesy Italia Film International

Skiptrace

Director: Renny Harlin

Starring: Jackie Chan, Johnny Knoxville, Fan Bingbing

Two stars

Skiptrace teams Jackie Chan with Jackass mainstay Johnny Knoxville in a transcontinental odd-couple caper as Chan’s strait-laced Hong Kong cop seeking justice for the murder of his partner, who is forced to enlist the help of an American con man (Knoxville).

Chan is no stranger to the ­buddy-cop movie genre, and this movie certainly brings nothing new to a well-worn genre.

There are times when you can’t help but wonder how many tourist boards might have contributed funding to the film, with lingering shots of the Russian Steppes, Southern China and the sweeping Mongolian countryside gracing the screen as the pair stalk their prey around the globe – lending the film a feel more akin to a Michael Palin travelogue than previous Chan cop-movie outings.

Perhaps it is a sign that with United States box-office takings in the doldrums, the producers made a conscious decision to appeal to the burgeoning Chinese and Russian markets. The fact that all the multinational characters speak English (with the obligatory dodgy Hollywood accents), combined with some occasionally questionable cultural stereotyping – suggests that Western audiences are still very much the main target. Chan’s presence helps to lift the film a little – though at 62 years old, his martial-arts stunt sequences are less frequent and frenetic these days.

Much of the responsibility for making the most of a flimsy script, therefore, is handed to Knoxville. He does his best, too, but it is hard to swallow the usually edgy, verging on obnoxious, Jackass star as a smooth-talking charmer, and the chemistry with Chan never fully takes hold.

For all the film’s faults, there are a few laughs to be had – though the humour is never exactly sophisticated – and the scenery of the international locations is at times worth a watch in itself. ­Ultimately, there are two types of people in the world: Those who love Jackie Chan’s brand of slapstick Kung Fu comedy capers, and those who just do not get it.

The first group is big enough to have made Chan the second-­highest-paid movie star in the world, and they will lap Skiptrace up as a perfectly competent ­example of his oeuvre, albeit not anywhere near one of his ­classics.

• Skiptrace is in cinemas now

cnewbould@thenational.ae

Updated: August 17, 2016 04:00 AM

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