An ageing Jackie Chan with jowls is not the main worry. A sub-standard subject that’s as dated as Jackie’s antics is the irredeemable part of Skiptrace.
Bennie Chan is an unsmiling cop with the Hong Kong police, never giving up on finding Matador, a faceless criminal. He’s a loner, except for young Samantha, his late colleague’s daughter, and she needs Uncle Bennie’s help. A bunch of gangsters from a Macau casino are after her to bring back Connor Watts, a cheeky American gambler she had briefly befriended. The thugs claim that Connors cheated the casino of a million dollars.
Bennie Chan goes to Russia to rescue and bring back Watts who has been forcibly taken there by another set of toughies. But Connor Watts cheats, lies, hides his money and doesn’t seem to be very grateful to Chan. But with the Russians and Matador’s men chasing them, they have to hit the road together, bickering all the while.
Like all Jackie Chan movies, comic moments stirred into action scenes, continue to set the tone. There is a bit of fun when Jackie comically discovers Russia’s famous matroshka doll which is a doll within a doll within another doll, in the midst of a fight. But director Renny Harlin serves such light scenes too infrequently and the déjà vu kicks in early. It’s barely funny when Chan and Watts spend a drunken night burping loudly with a tribe in Gobi Desert. It’s also terribly trite having the carefree American asking an uptight Chan to loosen up followed by Chan’s back story. It transpires that Matador took the joy out of Chan’s personal life.
Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, the American finds that he’s on the run too because of Matador the killer. There’s also routineness in the dialogues like a Chinese saying that in every crisis there’s an opportunity, and this is repeated later as expected. It’s predictable too that the Chinese and the American start off as reluctant partners but end up watching out for each other.
By the time they’re back in Hong Kong to unmask the real Matador, you feel like you’ve crossed the Gobi without water.
If Jackie Chan offers little freshness, Johnny Knoxville as Connor Watts is no spring chicken either. And Bing Bing Fan as Samantha is too young and pretty to end up with him. You groan as Jackie finally grins when he’s also paired off with an eager young thing.
Die hard Jackie Chan fans should just re-watch an old Rush Hour or Police Story to get their fix.
For a tired Jackie in a recycled story, Skiptrace gets a 2* rating.
Skiptrace is a 2016 Hong Kong-Chinese-American action comedy film directed by Renny Harlin, produced by, starring and based on a story by Jackie Chan. The film co-stars Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.