The Spy Next Door
Some years after Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop and Vin Diesel in The Pacifier, Jackie Chan is the latest action star seeking to reinvent himself for a younger generation by portraying himself as a put-upon babysitter to bratty kids.
At least Chan’s fans should enjoy the first five minutes of uber-hack Brian Levant’s patronising comedy-thriller, which opens with a montage of fabulous stunt-work from Chan’s earlier work. Thereafter, Chan struggles gamely to inject any reality into a glib scenario in which, as secret agent Bob Ho, he attempts to win the heart of a pretty neighbour Gillian (Amber Valetta) and her unattractively smart-mouthed brood of tykes, who are all blissfully unaware of Chan’s day job.
As the outwardly nerdy Ho, Chan is clearly game for a laugh, and takes his lumps gamely in a series of slapstick pratfalls, even sweetly singing the youngest kid to sleep with a Chinese lullaby. But a subplot about Russia attempting to seize control of the world’s oil market keeps interrupting any emotional involvement, leaving Chan with little to offer but a set of arthritic, clearly wire-work assisted stunts, impressive only because they’re completed by a man pushing sixty.
General release from Fri 19 Mar.