Directed by: Brett Ratner
Starring: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Max von Sydow, Hiroyuki Sanada, Roman Polanski
The most interesting aspect of Rush Hour 3 isn’t the star power of the leads (at least not since Jackie Chan made The Tuxedo (2002) and definitely not since Chris Tucker made, well, anything) or the general public’s apparent desire to see another Rush Hour film. No, the interesting thing is how director Brett Ratner has been able to make a name for himself despite a completely uninspired filmography. It’s not so much that he’s a bad director, but an overwhelmingly run-of-the-mill one. Sure, there are the Shawn Levys (Cheaper by the Dozen) and Brian Robbins (Norbit) of the world, but they’re never in the public eye (which is likely safer for them). Ratner, who is positioned somewhere between Renny Harlin and Michael Bay in the world of hacks, has made an actual (and conceivably bankable) name for himself. The fact that this is “A Brett Ratner Film” is touted in the trailer—with all the fanfare and exuberance of the Fourth of July—brings up the question of what, exactly, is a Brett Ratner film? In the case of Rush Hour 3, the answer is not much that you haven’t seen before, in just about every conceivable respect.
This time around, we find Detective James Carter (Tucker) and Chief Inspector Lee (Chan) flying to Paris to avenge the attempted assassination of a Chinese ambassador (Tzi Ma, Rush Hour) and to take down a worldwide crime syndicate in the process. There’s also some business about a list that names the heads of this syndicate, and then there’s the reemergence of Lee’s brother (Hiroyuki Sanada, The Last Samurai) who’s now on the wrong side of the law. Unfortunately, none of this really matters, since the film never makes sense as a whole and is completely littered with plot holes, like the idea that the world’s largest crime ring can be brought down by killing just one man. Much of the storyline itself is a case of things happening because the script says so, not because they’re plausible or conceivable.
Easily the most superfluous of all the third-installment films to come out this summer, made by maybe the most superfluous director of our times, Rush Hour 3 can be best described—much like its director—as adequately mediocre. The movie is passable popcorn fare and usually ends up being a case of almosts. The jokes are almost funny; the action scenes are almost clever and almost exciting, and so on and so forth.
I saw the first two Rush Hour films, and all I can remember about them is that Chan and Tucker starred in them. Even a few days after seeing this latest version, I can’t say that I will remember much more about it other than that—except maybe that Roman Polanski and Max von Sydow decided to embarrass themselves by signing up to be a part of it. The movie itself is nothing more than Buddy Cop 101, with all the quips and culture clashes that come along with that. Did you know Jackie Chan is Asian? If you didn’t, you will by the end of the movie.
The only time the film ever gets close to working is when Chan’s on-screen, but it’s the type of performance he’s given his whole career and could give in his sleep—and hopefully did, for his sake. His action scenes are nothing you haven’t seen him do a hundred times before. Tucker manages to be almost funny on a couple of occasions, but undermines himself by his usual loud-and-shrill shtick that’s already brought his career to a halt outside this series.
Maybe the film’s oddest move is somehow convincing filmmaker Polanski to play a French detective, though most of his screen time, minus maybe 20 seconds, is already on display in the trailer. While Rush Hour 3 is surely one of the most embarrassing things to have ever happened to the filmmaker, the fact that the film’s target audience has no clue who he is and any self-respecting Polanski fan would never willfully attend this movie is maybe enough to justify the paycheck. Rated PG-13 for sequences of action violence, sexual content, nudity and language.