The Tuxedo (2002)

The Tuxedo has a bonkers plot, but then again, so do most spy movies. The difference is in the clothes, and this movie boasts one very smart tuxedo. It’s something Q might want to investigate because so far, he hasn’t come up with anything like it. The tuxedo conforms to its wearer’s biometrics and in doing so endows him or her with some extraordinary physical abilities.

It might be the star of the film if it weren’t for the person who dons it, Jackie Chan. Jimmy Tong is not the first one to wear it and only does so when his boss and the owner of the suit, Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs), is injured. Jimmy, a humble cab driver and chauffeur, discovers that Devlin is actually an undercover agent for the government (American, I assume) and decides to take his boss’s identity and his sweet threads to help him finish his mission.

Devlin and his associates were investigating the Banning Corporation, a water company wanting to expand worldwide. Owner Dietrich Banning (Ritchie Coster) declares that purveyors of bottled water are the new oil barons, and he’s not entirely wrong. His diabolical plan for global domination is to infect the water supply with a bacteria passed along by water striders. The bacteria causes a person to die quickly and painfully from dehydration and, if they’re especially unlucky, to turn to dust. Look, it’s fiction.

Jimmy gets some help from Delilah Blaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt), a government scientist whose biggest obstacle is her male colleagues. She and another agent played by Debi Mazar are objectified and harassed in ways that merit a wholesale overhaul of whatever agency they work at, and someone also fire the damn writers who decided this was funny. When she arranges a meeting with Devlin, whom she has never met, a colleague tells Jimmy to comment on Del’s chest size, to the amusement of all. Ha ha fuck you.

Clearly this isn’t the pinnacle of filmmaking, but it is an entertaining movie much to my surprise. Chan proves why he’s so popular and enduring, even though I can’t abide by his politics. He’s clever and super good at what he does, and that’s just a fact. The action sequences have his signature creativity and humor, whether he’s spinning uncontrollably with his pants half down or dancing like James Brown, who bizarrely cameos in the film. The imagination is a crazy thing, and at times I forgot that Chan and not the weaponized tuxedo was the prime mover. Chan is so quick and agile that he becomes a man transformed when he’s wearing his magic clothes. Even if the plot and acting don’t excite you, and why would they, the fighting and dancing scenes make this effort worthwhile.

Released: 2002
Prod: Adam Schroeder, John H. Williams
Dir: Kevin Donovan
Writer: Michael J. Wilson, Michael J. Leeson
Cast: Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Isaacs, Debi Mazar, Ritchie Coster, Peter Stormare
Time: 98 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Reviewed: 2018

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