Skiptrace is about a Hong Kong detective named Benny Chan (Jackie Chan) who is driven to prove once and for all that businessman Victor Wong and the crime boss known as “The Matador” (Winston Chao) are one and the same. In order to do that, as well as save his goddaughter Samantha (Fan Bingbing) who recently gets herself in trouble with Wong, he searches for American con artist Connor Watts (Johnny Knoxville), a witness to a murder that Wong has committed in his casino. After Benny retrieves Connor from Russian mobsters in Siberia, circumstance forces them to take the long and scenic route back to Hong Kong, crossing the steppes of Mongolia, the Gobi Desert, and China’s countryside, with Chinese and Russian mobsters hot on their trails.
In the past, whenever Jackie Chan teams up with an American comedian to do an action comedy film, the unlikely pairing usually works favorably. He and Chris Tucker were a lot of fun in the Rush Hour movies. And he and Owen Wilson were fantastic in Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights. But, this time, there’s simply no chemistry between him and Johnny Knoxville. Either Chan has lost the talent to make any buddy pairing work or Knoxville simply has no charisma.
If the teamup had been likable at least, it would have provided a sufficient extent of redeeming enjoyability to make up for some of the flaws. And this movie is riddled with them. It’s horrendously paced, lazily edited, unimaginatively directed, and stupidly written. The jokes – even the usual slapstick action typical of a Jackie Chan film – aren’t funny. It also doesn’t have the daredevil stunts and creatively choreographed fight scenes that Jackie Chan was known for. But that’s understandable, considering his age now.
The only moment of fair cleverness in the movie was in the scene wherein Chan and Knoxville’s characters were running away from some goons, and it seemed that the only way to escape from them was to jump off from a cliff to the river below. They appeared to go for it, sprinting toward the edge, but then stopped. If it had been another movie, the characters would have dramatically jumped. They avoided that cliché. Unfortunately, the rest of the storytelling is dragged down by the employment of tons of clichés.
Skiptrace is forgettable. I actually find it boring most of the time – a rare appraisal of a Jackie Chan film. If there’s any sense of enjoyment to be had from this movie, it’s the very minimum. It offers nothing remarkable. Well, unless you consider Jackie Chan randomly doing an awkward musical number of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” with a tribe of Mongolian nomads “remarkable.” Yep, that weird and stupid cover is the highlight of this movie.