Some people will remember Jackie Chan for his roles in the Rush Hour trilogy and The Tuxedo (2002), some will remember him for his roles in Kung Fu Panda (2008) and Around the World in 80 Days (2004). But for the current generation of movie-goers, Jackie Chan will be remembered for his recent role in The Karate Kid remake and The Spy Next Door. The latter is the film that I have currently got my eyes on, and features Jackie Chan as Bob Ho, who seemingly lives a humdrum life as a pen-seller, but who is really a Spy for the CIA.
It must be great living your life as a Spy, but in Bob’s case, not so. For he has recently fallen in love with his next door neighbour Gillian (Amber Valletta) an over-worked mother of 3. Her 3 kids consist of stroppy teen Farren (Madeline Carroll), super-nerd Ian (Will Shadley) and little terror Nora (Alina Foley). Already, they do not trust Bob, and want nothing to do with him. Inspite of that, Bob still decides to put his future family before his career, determined to gain the respect of Gillian’s kids.
When Gillian ends up having to go and see her father after he is hospitalised, Bob volunteers to watch her kids while she is away, confident that as a Spy, he can handle kids. His boss Glaze (George Lopez) and Spy partner Colton (Billy Ray Cyrus) understandably have their doubts. Indeed, as soon as Gillian has left, Farren, Ian and Nora immediately begin plotting to try and get rid of Bob. But where there’s a Jackie Chan, there’s a way, and don’t forget, he’s a Spy and Spies always have a trick up their sleeves.
No sooner does Bob start bonding with the kids, a Russian terrorist named Poldark (Magnus Scheving) comes after him, and tries to trick him with his young protege Larry (Lucas Till). At the same time, Bob is beginning to wonder if his former partners are conspiring behind his back. By the time Gillian returns, the Russians have indeed invaded, and Bob now has to protect his future family more than ever. Especially as Ian has unknowingly obtained vital info about Poldark from Bob’s computer.
Though a little cliched and predictable in places, there is not 1 gadget featured in this film that James Bond has already thought of, The Spy Next Door delivers plenty of laughs and action with its highly comical and well thought out fight sequences. Indeed, being a Spy means Bob can take on just about any challenge, and having some his gadgets handy can be very useful when trying to tackle new challenges, like handling kids. Having a Spy for a baby-sitter, the kids inevitably get in on the act themselves, this is no pen-seller they have been saddled with.
Director Brian Levant (The Flintstones, Snow Dogs, Are We There Yet?) has clearly done his best to create a successful mix of Spy Drama and Family Comedy, so one has to give him credit when it is due. Besides, there is no film that Jackie Chan cannot save from being a total flop. Where else are you going to see Jackie Chan catching small children and fighting off the enemy at the same time? All in all, it is clear to see that Jackie Chan is still very much at the top of his game, and certainly not about to retire anytime soon. Keep us smiling, Jackie Chan, and kick some butt!