New Film Fridays: Rush Hour 3

10 08 2007

by mr. travis

rush hour 3

Title: Rush Hour 3
Studio: New Line
Director: Brett Ratner
Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Roman Polanski, Max Von Sydow
Release Date: August 10, 2007

It’s difficult to review Brett Ratner’s Rush Hour 3, only because the expectations on it are so low. The original Rush Hour, while fun, didn’t really bring anything new to the table and its sequel was more of the same, but without the fun. This new one follows the same formula; Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) and Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) do their fish out of water schtick, this time in France while they search for an assassin. That’s it. There’s little here to provoke any kind of emotion (except for one scene which we’ll discuss in a moment), whether that emotion be humor (which this is supposed to be) or excitement (which, this being an action/comedy should also occur). But, there’s nothing, except maybe the apathy of being bludgeoned in the face with one too many crappy films in the past few months. In a summer of sub par sequels (with The Bourne Ultimatum being the only one equal to its predecessors) this is the icing on the cake, a soulless mess that is only there because a studio wants to milk a boring franchise for all its worth. And, oh yeah, Chris Tucker needs to come out of hiding for a bit to earn his 20 million dollar paycheck.

Ratner is a serviceable director: That is, if serviceable means being a company man who produces nice looking films that have little in the way of individual characteristics. Really, he is indistinguishable from the numerous, nameless directors out there, except he knows how to bring in the money. It’s odd, really, because he hasn’t really made anything that was great. Sure, the original Rush Hour was fine and The Family Man is a good Christmas flick (though not exactly original), but everything else is mediocre to horrid (let’s not get started on the abomination that was X-Men 3). Was there even that great of a demand for a third Rush Hour? Well, whoever that one person is, screaming loudly to the hills for a new Rush Hour, Brett Ratner has answered the call, just for you.

The person who comes out of this okay is Jackie Chan, who tries to make it work. There was a time when Chan had a ballet dancer’s grace mixed with a Charlie Chaplin sense of humor when it came to his martial arts in his films. This was Chan’s art, something he took seriously and made the audience take seriously as they watched in awe at Chan’s stunt work, all of which he did on his own. But, Chan is now in his fifties and age mixed with injury limits his stunts in this film. There are numerous occasions where the stunt work is obviously done by a double, another in which the CGI is so atrocious that it takes you immediately out of the scene. Perhaps even more telling is the end outtakes, no longer are they shots of Chan screwing up a stunt shoot, instead they are missed jokes and flubs. It’s understandable for Chan to no longer be doing his own stunts and his screen presence is liked enough that it is possible for him to continue on in comedy, hopefully ones that are not like this. He is the only thing to recommend in this film, it’s just that it’s unfortunate that he would even have to be in a film like this. There has to be some other role out there for someone like Chan, an actor who deserves roles that fit for a man of his legacy and stature.

Then there’s Chris Tucker, who, since 1998 has made three movies, all of them containing the words rush and hour. Perhaps it’s that knowledge that makes him all the more annoying in this film, his voice actually grating on ones nerves, the jokes continually falling flat. For the amount of money he is being paid, you would expect him to bring some sort of comic gold, justifying the paycheck. But, he only comes across as lazy, mining the same territory he delved into with the prequels to this film. Tucker has talent, and he has a lot of energy, but he needs to find something else to do to challenge himself. Fifteen years into his career he should have progressed as an actor and a comedian, instead he’s still in 1998 mode.

As for the one part of the film that actually provoked some kind of reaction, it involved the great director Roman Polanski, playing a French police inspector. The gag, involving a search of Tucker and Chan, gives the impression of an anal rape, which was surprising given Polanski’s history (he is wanted in the U.S. for a sex with a minor charge from the 70’s). Whether Polanski knew what the joke was about is up for debate: the fact that it was in there though seems as if someone is thumbing their nose at the issue. Not that it really matters anyway; most people under 25 probably won’t even know who Polanski is, let alone the context behind the joke.

New Line Cinema, the studio behind the Rush Hour series is hoping for another hit, seeing as their profits have been down since The Lord of the Rings trilogy ended several years ago. With a film like this, they should be looking for a new direction because this will only serve to damage the studios already less than sterling reputation. Everyone involved should count their dollars, then walk onto something else, leaving this dead series where it belongs, on late night cable TV.

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