Hidden Strike

  • 19 Aug - 25 Aug, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Quentin Tarantino may have been referring to Hidden Strike when he recently said that Netflix films "did not exist in the zeitgeist." This action movie starring Jackie Chan and John Cena, which is directed by Scott Waugh (Need for Speed, the upcoming The Expendables 4), arrived on the scene quietly and leaves little of an impression. The narrative has the air of a work created in a nerdy 14-year-old's room. The commander of Shadow Squad, Commander Dragon Luo (Chan), is in charge of an operation to rescue workers from a Middle Eastern oil plant that is being attacked by insurgents. The coach convoy is attacked by a group of mercenaries who seem to have strayed in from Mad Max: Fury Road as they try to escape through the Highway Of Death, which is right off the Interstate Of Existential Angst, presumably. They include Chris (Cena), an American soldier of fortune, whose main distinguishing characteristic is his genuinely aggravating propensity to give everyone and everything a nickname. Chris works for Big Bad Owen Paddock (Pilou Asbaek), but after being betrayed, he teams up with Luo to free Professor Cheng (Jiang Wenli), the guardian of a crucial dongle (never has a movie used the word "dongle" more frequently), and to overthrow Paddock. This is an insult to nerdy 14-year-olds, when you read it backwards. An estranged daughter (Chan's) and a deceased father (Cena's), unconvincing CGI deserts, unfunny one-liners, and an action-packed final act that drags on for an eternity are just a few of the modern action film clichés that can be found along the way. At one point, Chan fights a tattooed goon in what feels like a foam party in an early-noughties Watford nightclub. The promising duo act of Chan and Cena, which was supposed to be the movie's selling point, fails miserably. It takes them a while to team up, and once they do, the writing either burdens them with drab banter or divides them up as if contractual obligations mandate they each have their own moment in the spotlight. As is customary with Chan, the movie finishes with end-credit outtakes and deleted sequences, all of which demonstrate the actors' relationship and comic skills far more than anything that was included in the original running time. Although Waugh creates the occasional eye-catching image and some of the fight choreography is impressive – there's a nice brawl on a coach without Chan or Cena – this is a cliched, weak production. When the opening financier idents are more creative and interesting than the subsequent feature, something is happening. Hidden Strike, a rambling, unfunny, largely flat attempt, is a terrible squandering of two incredibly likeable stars. Go directly to the hilarious outtakes.