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Movie review - The Spy Next Door (2010)


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If the credits are to be believed, Jackie Chan has to spend as much time polishing his English as he does to practise his acrobatic stunts. Fortunately, he is not given much stimulating or challenging dialogue in this film but he does his pugilistic stunts extremely well.
Playing the character of demure Bob Ho, Chan is delightful. Ho is the dream neighbour who rushes forward to help take the trash cans to the road for a pick-up. He is dating Gillian (Valleta), a divorced mother of three, who truly believes that he is Mr Nice Guy because he shows interest (if not understanding) of her art work and seems solidly reliable in his job as a pen salesman. Ironically, her children loathe him: he is ‘not cool' and has earned the insulting soubriquet Cyborg. Their dislike of his dullness is a definite stumbling block to any development of their relationship beyond civilized evenings in restaurants.
The storyline is pretty haphazard and definitely requires suspension of belief. Two plot threads are tenuously inter-linked: first, a company called Stockholm DBH has developed a bacteria which can swallow fossil fuels, causing them to disappear. This has great political and profitable potential for the villains who evade the CIA but tremble at the prospect of tussling with Ho. In the test run of the bacteria, the villainess, Tatiana, stands in the puddle of fuel and loses her shoes as well - they were partly plastic. Tatiana's Russian accent is completely over-the-top: she is one of several players in this film who ‘act it up', exaggerating presumably just for fun. The second plot thread stays rooted in suburbia, where Bob, the Secret Asian Man, tries desperately to win the respect, if not affection, of Gillian's children, in order to further his matrimonial prospects.
Apart from Chan's amazing stunts, most of which are choreographed for a chortle, the impressive actors are the children: they command a large proportion of the action and fail to disappoint. Needless to say, they all have hang-ups, which I suppose might make them ‘normal' kids. The oldest girl, Farren (Carroll) is a step-daughter who dreams of the return of her flaky father; since this is an unlikely development, she spends the interim being rude to Gillian, dressing inappropriately, and sporting a permanent pout. The boy, Ian, (Shadley) is a computer geek, academically advanced, but lacking confidence and social poise; he is thus ignored by the opposite sex and bullied by the moronic heavyweights. The youngest daughter, Nora ( Foley), is precocious and pretty, needing little else to be captivating.
An amusing and effective minor role is Colton (Cyrus), a CIA agent from the deep South, who generally helps Ho (on loan to the CIA from China) to acculturate by explaining the function of Halloween and other such American foibles. His cynical riposte to Ho's confession that he wants to retire in favour of married life in suburbia is, Why don't you just find a woman you're going to hate in five years and give her your house? While he might regard Ho as the sharpest barb on the wire, the children despise Ho - so much so that when Gillian announces that she is leaving them in her neighbour's care while she rushes to her father's sick bed, one of the children saucily chirps up, Isn't there any other option? Foster care? Total abandonment? They invade his house, showing as much initiative with spying as he does. When one daughter opens his clothing closet she slams it shut, announcing, Fashion Armageddon.
In fact, the children are given the slick lines of dialogue; the villains grope for monosyllables with bad Russian accents.
There are occasional syrupy dollops of sentiment, as slowly but surely Ho wins over domestic hostilities, while fighting political enemies on the work front. There is absolutely no surprise in the irony that the children are bowled over with admiration to discover his real line of work or that Gillian is repelled by the risks to which her offspring have been exposed.
Still, beyond sticky bits of sentiment, are all those action scenes, during which Jackie Chan turns a fight into an art form, even at the age of 55. Most of them are absolute fun, as he fashions domestic utensils such as chairs, bicycles, and frying pans into weapons during desperate moments. The villains obligingly fall down, with no blood and no groaning, and then they bounce back five minutes later for another round. There's some impressive scaling of buildings and sliding down escalators. Is Chan still doing all his own stunts? I would say so.
It's almost a relief when the Russian mobsters are finally carted off in handcuffs so that Ho can settle down to the real business of getting married. He really is 'Mr Nice Guy'.
For more reviews and watch free : 3399296 istarmovie the-spy-next-door-2010/ title=The Spy Next Door (2010)>CLICK HERE
istarmovie the-spy-next-door-2010/

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