Dan's Review: Despite oddities, Chan shines in "The Foreigner"
Oct 12, 2017 06:12PM
● By Dan Metcalf
Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan in The Foreigner - © 2017 STX Films.
The Foreigner (STX Films)
Rated R for violence, language and some sexual material.
Starring Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Michael McElhatton, Charlie Murphy, Liu Tao, Orla Brady, Katie Leung, Manolo Cardona, Simon Kunz, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Roberta Taylor, Dermot Crowley, Rufus Jones, Niall McNamee.
Written by David Marconi, based on “The Chinaman” by Stephen Leather.
Directed by Martin Campbell.
I don’t think there’s an actor who’s more durable than Jackie Chan. The guy has sacrificed his body for decades to entertain the masses, mostly in martial arts flicks, and well before he became a household name in the United States. Yes, we all knew he could perform some the most amazing stunts imaginable, but can he act? The Foreigner, in theaters this weekend, is Chan’s chance to prove it.
Chan plays Mr. Quan, a Vietnamese immigrant living in London whose daughter Fan (Katie Leung) is killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorist bombing. Quan’s quiet life as a restaurant owner obscures his dark past as a U.S.-trained special forces operative during the Viet Nam War. Seeking answers, Quan tracks down Liam Hennessey (Peirce Brosnan), a former IRA member who now works for the British government, seeking answers. Hennessey appears to be against terrorism, but his past associations cause Quan to doubt his motives. Quan begins a campaign to harass Hennessey until he can find out the names of his daughter’s killers. Using his special forces training, Quan is able to infiltrate Hennessey’s remote luxurious estate in the Irish countryside, avoiding capture and inflicting all kinds of damage. In the meantime, dark forces surrounding Hennessey continue to operate, setting off more bombs and threatening even more lives. The terrorist ties to the IRA and Hennessey bring Quan to final confrontation with the killers.
The Foreigner is an odd film, yet somewhat enjoyable. It should be noted that Jackie Chan can indeed act very well, pulling off some very believable, emotional moments throughout the film. Turns out he can do more than beat assailants with common household items and jump from rooftops (which he also does in The Foreigner).
The biggest oddity is the film’s setting (a contemporary regurgitation of “The Troubles” civil war in Ireland, which effectively ended in the 1990s), giving the audience a clumsy view of a very complicated struggle largely unknown to audiences outside of the United Kingdom. A two-hour film is not s sufficient space to get up to speed on such a conflict, let alone the complicated political/religious/ethnic background involved. It’s as if you made an Irish Liam Neeson revenge movie and stuck Jackie Chan in the leading role. It feels a bit too “local,” even if it’s a movie titled “The Foreigner.” There are several long spans in the movie filled with Irish-British political minutiae, interspersed with a few action sequences involving Chan, making him seem more like a supporting role to Brosnan, with his contorted face screaming obscenities in a thick, Irish accent. The climactic conclusion to the protagonist’s vengeance also feels a little anticlimactic, perhaps leaving audiences feeling a little unfulfilled.
Either way, The Foreigner has enough action and drama to keep your interest in the outcome, even if you don’t what all the fuss is about.
The Foreigner Trailer