The Tuxedo (2002)

I don’t know a more fitting beginning when talking about The Tuxedo than mentioning the film’s opening shot, which involves a deer urinating into a river. That happens before the film’s opening credits have occurred, and it manages to be the most memorable thing about the movie. In a Jackie Chan action flick, that’s not a good thing. I can’t remember a single stunt in this film that required Chan’s talents, and I also can’t come up with a single reason why you should give it a moment of your time.

I can kind of see why this opening scene was chosen. It introduces us to the substance which will be used by the movie’s villain in order to try to control the world. Water, it seems, is easy enough to control if you genetically alter water striders to pump it full of a dehydrating solution that will force all of the creatures on Earth to drink your bottled water. Actually, I don’t think he, a man named Banning (Ritchie Coster), really thought this through. Surely he’s not going to be selling his bottled water to the animals and plants. He’s willing to kill everything on the planet but humans. Interesting.

The film doesn’t bring that up, but considering he’s planning on poisoning the entirety of the planet’s water supply, it’s clear that this is what the end result would be. I suppose the first thing to question is the absurdity of the plot, and how straight the film plays it. Reading this, you’re hopefully laughing or at least shaking your head. The villain is so dead serious about it, though, and it’s really hard to take The Tuxedo as it wants to be, especially considering it wants us to believe that water striders are going to poison our water supply.

There’s even a point when one of the characters works out that this won’t work, although nothing ever comes of that. There are a couple of “tense” moments later on that are supposed to make us hold our breath, even though ten minutes prior it was explained that the plan can’t work. I was already nodding off by this point, simply because the film leading up to here was pretty boring, but if I wasn’t, I can assure you I probably would have just laughed at how silly the movie had gotten.

If the villain’s plan isn’t silly and convoluted enough, just wait until you hear the way that Jackie Chan’s character, Jimmy, gets involved. He’s working as a taxi driver, is offered a $2,000 a week job to drive for a secret agent (Jason Isaacs), the secret agent is wounded, and Jimmy has to don an outfit — the titular tuxedo — that will allow him to become the action star that is required of a Jackie Chan character. He gets a wristwatch which controls the suit, which in turn controls his body with no input from his brain required. I suppose that’s fitting, as your brain can be chucked out the door before starting this film as well.

He doesn’t start off with much of a goal, but is contacted by a rookie agent named Del Blaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt) who informs him about the main villain, his goal in life, and that the pair has to stop him somehow. Basically, we have to track him down and put a halt to his world domination plan before it can come to fruition. To do so, we’ll have about three or four action scenes, a lot of expository dialogue, and not a whole lot of anything of real substance.

Here’s all you need to know about the action scenes: In the end credits of the film, there are outtakes. Not a single outtake involves Jackie Chan failing to complete a difficult action scene. They’re almost all dialogue flubs and Jennifer Love Hewitt’s seemingly uncontrollable laughter. The action scenes are so safe and don’t use the lead actor in a way that can justify casting Chan in the role. He has a magical suit which allows him to do anything, and all we get to see are rudimentary and downright boring fist fights.

There’s a moment early on right after he dons the suit that he presses a button and is able to defy gravity. If that can happen, what other possibilities are there? The gravity thing doesn’t ever even come into play, making me question the reason for showing it in the first place. It builds out expectations up and then the film never delivers on the promise it made near the beginning. I wasn’t mad at The Tuxedo or the people behind it, but I was disappointed by what I saw. It’s like there wasn’t a shred of creativity behind the camera.

I’m not sure about the casting of either of the two leads. Oh, Jackie Chan is fun to watch even though the film gives him nothing to work with, but why cast Jackie Chan if you don’t have the right material? And Jennifer Love Hewitt as both a scientist and a secret agent? That would be like casting Denise Richards as a scientist. Yes, I’m well aware that it has happened and does anyone remember how well it didn’t work then?

The Tuxedo is a ridiculously silly movie that takes itself far too seriously, tries to explain its preposterous plot far too frequently, and doesn’t make very good use of its greatest asset, Jackie Chan. It’s no fun to watch, makes very little sense, and doesn’t give us a very good balance between action and dialogue, with the emphasis being put on the latter, which is the wrong choice. I get the film’s opening scene now. It was an attempt to overwhelm you. A dear urinating into a stream is simultaneously funnier, more dramatic, and more action-packed than the rest of The Tuxedo.

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