It’s been decades since Jackie Chan hung from helicopters; now, the most terrifying stunt he does is repeatedly make movies with Chris Tucker. Still, don’t you think his safety team should at least be shielding him from generic comedies that even the Rock would reject as subpar? The Spy Next Door asks us to believe Chan as bespectacled Bob, a Clark Kent--like pen importer who, it’s said, makes single-mom neighbor Gillian (Valletta) “laugh.” A suburban romance quietly blooms, but her phalanx of surly kids (none of whom possesses any charm) are dead set against it. Yet you know they’re going to melt when Bob’s secret panels slide away, revealing laser-shooting watches and other cutesy disciplining devices.
Just play the movie in your head and save the money. The only curious thing here is the referendum Spy holds on an aging action star’s prospects, like those of an athlete. Chan won’t be entering into gubernatorial politics anytime soon, nor does his high-kicking variety of stunt work lend itself to Stallone shoot-’em-ups. The little action here will disappoint fans; it’s way too choppy. And the sole laugh? The blooper reel, in which Chan admits, “I hate English.” As the body slows down, that’s going to become more of a problem, Jackie.—Joshua Rothkopf
Opens Fri 15
Watch the trailer