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The Spy Next Door

The Spy Next Door

Review by Cassam Looch

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THE Spy Next Door marks another outing for Jackie Chan’s ‘childrens entertainer’ persona in a film that will probably fill you with as much melancholy sadness as it will joy.

Bob Ho, an undercover CIA superspy, decides to give up his career in espionage to settle down with his next-door neighbour and girlfriend, Gillian (Amber Valletta). But Bob has one more mission to complete before Gillian agrees to marry him: winning over her three opinionated kids.

When Gillian suddenly has to leave town, Bob volunteers to babysit the children so he can earn their approval. But when one of the kids mistakenly downloads a top-secret formula from his computer, Bob’s arch-enemy, a Russian terrorist, moves in for the attack, forcing Bob to juggle the roles of spy and prospective stepfather in the most challenging mission of his career!

The film opens with a great montage of past Chan glories, but these only serve to remind us how poor his Hollywood output has been. It’s a real shame that he has opted to make films aimed squarely at kids when he has so much more to offer. It’s not just the action (which he can still do with ease) but as we saw in The Shinjuku Incident, Chan is a gifted dramatic actor.

The plot then gives way to some slapstick and nonsense about secret computer files with cardboard cutout foreign henchmen chasing the principals around. The kids all do a fine job, and they aren’t too young, which means some of the teen-angst jokes with Chan trying to cope with a stroppy teenager work quite well.

There are indeed a few laughs along the way and the few moments where Chan gets to show his physical prowess are worth recommending for fans of the star. It’s the prop-based stuff he does so well but lacking the urgency that we fondly remember.

If it wasn’t for the limp plot, I think the characters and concept could have worked out much better. Bob Ho is a likable undercover spy and the concept fits in well with the persona of Chan in Hollywood.

Nonetheless we can’t ignore the flaws and as such The Spy Next Door scrapes by with just a pass.

Certificate: PG
Running time: tbc
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: August 2, 2010