The Spy Next Door (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/03/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Watchable comedy enlivened by some decent fight scenes and Chan's likeable screen persona, but it's low on laughs and is almost undone by an irritating child performance from Will Shadley.

What's it all about?
Directed by Brian Levant, The Spy Next Door stars Jackie Chan as secret agent Bob Ho, who retires from the spy game in order to pursue a relationship with his attractive neighbour Gillian (Amber Valletta). There's only one small problem: Gillian's three children – including four-year-old Nora (Alina Foley), pre-teen Ian (Will Shadley) and 13-year-old stepdaughter Farren (Madeline Carroll) all hate him and aren't afraid to show it.

When Gillian has to attend a family emergency, Bob volunteers to look after the kids, hoping that they'll bond in their mother's absence. Unfortunately, Bob's Russian nemesis Poldark (Magnus Scheving) believes he's in possession of a secret code and dispatches henchmen to attack Bob while he's looking after the children. But they have reckoned without Bob's awesome fighting skills.

The Good
The film opens with a montage of clips from Chan's previous movies (including everything from Police Story to The Tuxedo), intended to establish Bob's background in awesome secret agent-type arse-kicking. However, this backfires considerably, because nothing in The Spy Next Door is anywhere near as good as the stunts in the montage and it only serves to remind you that Chan's best days are behind him.

That said, Chan's screen persona is as likeable as always and the fight scenes are well executed, even if they're not as energetic and inventive as they used to be. The film also manages to nail its emotional climax, thanks to a sweet performance from Foley (Bob singing her to sleep in Chinese is the film's nicest moment) and good work from Carroll.

The Bad
Sadly, the script leaves a lot to be desired – most of the jokes fall flat, while the painfully unfunny Russian stereotypes are an embarrassment to everyone concerned and the less said about Billy Ray Cyrus, the better. Also, the film is very nearly undone by a teeth-gratingly obnoxious performance from Shadley as the world's most badly written pre-teen - how many 11-year-olds do you know who are obsessed with bootleg concerts?

Worth seeing?
Chan's likeable screen persona ensures that The Spy Next Door remains just about watchable without actually being any good. Essentially, it's The Pacifier, only with Jackie Chan instead of Vin Diesel.

Film Trailer

The Spy Next Door (PG)
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Content updated: 22/09/2018 20:26

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