Years after their last adventure, Carter (Tucker) is working as a traffic cop and Lee (Chan) as bodyguard to the Chinese ambassador. But when an assassin shoots Lees charge, the two reunite to head to Paris and unravel the mystery.
Chris Tucker’s salary for this film was $25 million, the highest flat fee ever paid to an actor. To justify that kind of cash, Tucker would have had to, at the very least, tap-dance through Rush Hour 3 like Gene Kelly while cracking uproarious jokes and doing wire-fu without the wires.
He doesn’t, of course, do any of that. Instead, it’s strictly business as usual for both the Elmo-voiced irritant and co-star Jackie Chan — the former sticking to his schtick (mildly offensive gags screeched in a majorly offensive falsetto), the latter looking a bit embarrassed by it all until the action scenes arrive. Miraculously, after two films, the pair still have no discernable chemistry.
Having mined Hong Kong and America for cheap laughs, the action’s moved to Paris, with the Eiffel Tower visible out of every window in case we forget. There’s some guff about the Triads, a mythical list of names that could bring them down and a not-evil-at-all-honest Frenchman called Reynard (get it, renard?), but this being a Brett Ratner film, story is a lot less important than draping the sets with leggy models or executing a neat stunt.
Speaking of models and stunts, Tucker seems to have demanded script control along with his wheelbarrows of cash. His Detective James Carter is still a sweaty sex pest, but now the ladies are inexplicably into him, fluttering their eyelashes at his sordid come-ons instead of reaching for the mace. He’s also, as explained in a throwaway line, suddenly a black-belt in martial arts. Unbalancing the franchise’s opposites-attract equation, it turns the movie into an especially obnoxious ego trip.
So, the humour’s flat and the star stinks. What pleasures there are come from Chan’s undiminished relish for antic action — as brilliant at dreaming up stunts as he is at performing them, he understands that a fresh gag involving a table can be as exciting as a 1,000-foot freefall. Chan does what Chan can, but the lame script makes even the action set-pieces feel mechanical and uninvolving.
As a side note, and a slight endorsement, Rush Hour 3 does boast the fascinating spectacle of two patriarchs of European cinema making tits of themselves. As the aforementioned Reynard, Max Von Sydow is a late subscriber to the Garth Marenghi school of sinister acting, while Roman Polanski, architect of Chinatown and Repulsion, is reduced to fisting Chris Tucker.
Like Lethal Weapon, this franchise has become lazier and less thrilling with each instalment. Hopefully, unlike Lethal Weapon, theyll stop at Part Three.