It might be time for a Career View on Renny Harlin. Granted, he hasn’t produced the same caliber of work as a William Friedkin or the Coen brothers, but he has put together a long, strange, and unpredictable filmography. Harlin has run the gamut from one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, when he was helming massive sequels like Die Hard 2 and pricey flops like Cutthroat Island, to a mechanic working on the genre fringes, as with last year’s Russian found-footage horror Devil’s Pass and his recent (and, frankly, dreadful) The Legend Of Hercules. Is there a throughline in all of this? A grand unifying theory of Harlinomics? I would like to know.
Maybe I can convince the powers that be here at The Dissolve to let me write that piece when Harlin’s just-announced next project hits theaters. It’s called Skiptrace, a buddy-action vehicle for Jackie Chan that was originally going to be directed by ParaNorman’s Sam Fell. Via Deadline, the plot description:
“Chan is set to star opposite Seann William Scott and X-Men: Days Of Future Past’s Fan Bingbing in the tale of a Hong Kong detective (Chan) who teams up with a mouthy American gambler (Scott) to save his niece and take down the city’s most notorious criminal. Dasym Entertainment and Beijing-based Talent International Film are co-financing and co-producing the vehicle, which was first scripted by Jay Longino from Chan’s original idea.”
It sounds like a return to the mismatched partner comedies that drove Chan’s late-’90s run in Hollywood with films like Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon, but with the fish-out-of-water component reversed; this time it’s the American (Seann William Scott, the Hollywood actor most likely to play a character described as “mouthy”) in Asia instead of vice versa. It’s a formula, but one that always worked well for Chan, and though Harlin’s made some dreadful movies lately—seriously, have you seen The Legend Of Hercules?—he’s maintained his skills as an action director. It could be a fruitful pairing, particularly for me if I get to write that piece.