Jackie Chan‘s films are often entertaining, but in Project X-traction (aka Hidden Strike on Netflix), the movie struggles to make it to first base. I was hardly excited to wonder if this star can make it to second. After his home run with Ride On, his next film can barely get out of the gate.
This action thriller where he meets John Cena appeared on my Netflix recommendation list and I wished it didn’t. That’s because despite some high octane action, not even this former wrestler can steal the show. He has a lot more better moments than Chan, and that’s not saying much. Here, this lead is supposed to be in charge! Instead, he’s just a commander of a rescue team sent to free Chinese workers from an oil refinery in the Middle East. It’s under attack, and although that extraction was successful, getting out of the region will prove difficult. Luo’s team (Chan) he has to blaze through The Highway of Death and it was too Mad Max for me.
And who he meets in this desert radar rat race is an American soldier of fortune, Chris (Cena). But when this maverick also wants these workers, which also includes having eyes on Luo’s daughter (Chunrui Ma), things go from not so easy to crazy. Owen Paddock (Pilou Asbæk) has a bone to pick with the Yankee, and he’s so one-dimensional, I’m sure I could light a fire under him, and he wouldn’t notice until it’s too late.
Also involved in this strange film is Professor Cheng (Jiang Wenli), who holds the macguffin to move the story along. This device is simply known as the dongle, and by this point, I was groaning. Not only does this script suffer from the lack of proper technobabble, but also, the dialogue felt auto-generated by an AI. The only moments that work are when Chan and Cena may ad lib, and try to carry the film to the end. Although I reached that finale, not even the last frames felt all that worthwhile.
What’s produced isn’t your standard Hong Kong style martial arts action movie, and instead, feels a lot more G.I. Joe. Had Stephen Sommers been involved, I’m sure he could have saved the film, but sadly, it was in the hands of Scott Waugh, a less experienced director, to try to close off the story. I’m simply scared since he’s directing The Expendables 4. Maybe it’s time to set my bar for action movies super low.
2 Stars out of 5