Having made nothing but Rush Hour and its sequel during the last decade, Chris Tucker seems to be either lazy or a coward. His persistent refusal to try something new, however, makes him the perfect match for this third go-round in director Brett Ratner’s cross-cultural action-comedy franchise, a sluggish repeat of its predecessors that remains mistakenly convinced that miscommunication between Tucker and co-star Jackie Chan is the funniest thing ever. In this latest installment, Tucker’s LAPD detective Carter and Chan’s chief inspector Lee reunite and travel to France to track down the mysterious leader of a global crime organization. It’s a flimsy setup that winds up making little sense, but provides copious opportunities for jokes at the expense of the Chinese, women, and the French, who, in the case of a cabbie played by Yvan Attal, use anti-Americanism as a mask to hide their desire to star in a shoot-first-ask-questions-later Hollywood blockbuster. Brotherly tension is plentiful, both between Lee and enemy Kenji (Hiroyuki Sanada) as well as between kindred spirits Lee and Carter, who—in the film’s most heinously stupid scene, scored to Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”—commiserate over a falling-out by eating the other’s favorite food (Carter: Chinese food; Lee: fried chicken and sweet potato pie). Ratner’s glossy direction doesn’t add much energy or style to the vacuous plot and tame action, while Roman Polanski and Max von Sydow, in supporting parts, sully their good names—especially the former, who in one of many gay-panic moments gleefully administers a rectal exam to the ultra-hetero heroes. Throughout, Chan looks disinterested and Tucker lustily oversells verbal zingers, his helium-pitched motormouth manically spewing a steady stream of racially-minded wisecracks and Pepé Le Pew-style come-ons. Carter engages in a Chinese rendition of “Who’s on First?” but he and Lee are not only no Abbot and Costello, they’re not even the lively duo from the original Rush Hour, so bored do they now seem and so rote is their third adventure. Ratner, at least, provides a defining image for this most superfluous and slipshod of sequels: that of Lee and Carter sliding into a pool of sewage.
- Brett Ratner
- Jeff Nathanson
- Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Hiroyuki Sanada, Youki Kudoh, Yvan Attal, Noémie Lenoir, Zhang Jingchu, Tzi Ma, Dana Ivey, Henry O., Max von Sydow